Sacramento rallies against anti-Semitism

An estimated 500 people gathered on the steps of the Capitol this week to protest the recent rise in anti-Semitic acts in the Sacramento area and around the world.

Organized by the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Sacramento Board of Rabbis and the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, the March 9 rally drew Sacramento citizens, children, politicians and spiritual leaders. Organizers said one goal was to show links between two recent swastika incidents in the area and the rash of violent anti-Semitic acts across Europe.

In recent weeks, swastikas were scrawled on the property of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity at U.C. Davis, and were prominently included in a display at a private home in Sacramento’s middle-class River Park neighborhood.

Protesters at the “Stand Up Against Anti-Semitism” rally in Sacramento on March 9 photo/michael alcalay

“We may be far from Copenhagen and France,” said Melissa Chapman, the Sacramento-based federation’s executive director, referring to sites of recent deadly terror attacks in Europe, “but when it’s happening in our own backyard, something in our sensibility wakes up.”

Among legislators in attendance at the 5:30 p.m. rally were state Sens. Darrell Steinberg, Mark Leno, Lois Wolk and Marty Block, chair of the Legislative Jewish Caucus. State Assembly members present included Kevin McCarty, Jose Medina, Brian Dahle and Marc Levine.

Steinberg, the former state Senate president pro tem, and Rabbi Alan Rabishaw, chair of the Sacramento Board of Rabbis, were two of nine speakers at the event. Steinberg called for U.C. campuses to adopt a resolution condemning all forms of anti-Semitism. “It would be fine to add Islamophobia and racism as well,” he added.

Also in attendance were representatives of the local Sikh community, various Christian denominations, the Interfaith Council of Sacramento and the NAACP.

Covered by Sacramento television stations and local newspapers, the rally drew praise from Northern California Jewish community leaders.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of the Amcha Initiative, which combats anti-Semitism on college campuses, later said in a statement, “We applaud Sacramento leaders and community members for calling attention to this escalating problem that is threatening the safety of our students.”

The rally also drew a handful of picketers protesting what they described as Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The newspaper also reported that as of the night of March 9, the swastika display outside the Sacramento home — which featured swastikas on U.S. and Israeli flags — had been torn down and placed on the ground outside the house.

Sacramento’s KOVR-Channel 13 reported the suspect as Robert Dixon, who admitted to tearing down the display. He was interviewed outside the home holding pro-Israel signs and wearing a sleeveless American flag T-shirt. The homeowner responded to the demolition by putting up a new sign on the front door reading “Terrorism?”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.