Protesters advocating the overturn of the 2020 presidential election results gather at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Tasos Katopodis-Getty Images)
Protesters advocating the overturn of the 2020 presidential election results gather at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Tasos Katopodis-Getty Images)

After Capitol riot, Bay Area Jewish orgs urge Congress to protect ‘targeted Americans’

Jewish organizations, leaders and lawmakers from the Bay Area have signed on to a letter asking Congress to protect “targeted Americans” after the “appalling” breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“The violence and extremism on display underscores serious concerns about the security of Jewish and other targeted Americans,” the Jan. 14 letter reads. “The Jewish American experience has taught us that our future depends on a strong democracy.”

Addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy, both of whom represent California districts, the letter has 110 signatories, a majority of them local synagogues, nonprofits, rabbis and schools.

The letter urges congressional oversight to ensure that the investigation of the Capitol incident holds “individuals and groups accountable.”

Observers of the dramatic action at the Capitol, which was organized through social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Gab and Parler, have noted the use of antisemitic symbols and several groups in attendance with a history of antisemitism.

One man, who has since been arrested, wore a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt that said “Work Brings Freedom,” a reference to the message above the gate to the infamous concentration camp. Others present at the Capitol included the neo-Nazi group NSC-131 and the far-right Proud Boys.

The letter asks congressional leaders to pass legislation to “confront and address the rising threats of domestic terrorism and online disinformation.”

Signatories of the letter also want Congress to ensure “effective and equitable law enforcement procedures when responding to civil unrest on federal property.” Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been criticized for a lack of preparation and coordination, and a largely lackluster response to the violent incursion.

“When civility and trust in our system of government erode, our democratic protections are no longer guaranteed,” the letter reads. “We therefore turn to you as congressional leaders to publicly affirm your commitment to the foundational elements of our democratic republic, working together to rebuild the public’s trust.”

The letter was organized by the San Francisco and Silicon Valley Jewish Community Relations Councils and the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, whose chair and vice chair, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and state Sen. Scott Wiener, were also signatories.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler is a staff writer at J. You can reach him at gabriel@jweekly.com and follow him on Twitter @ggreschler.