Jewish leaders and other Sacramento leaders gathered at a press conference to denounce antisemitism, May 30, 2023. (Photo/Diane Weber)
Jewish leaders and other Sacramento leaders gathered at a press conference to denounce antisemitism, May 30, 2023. (Photo/Diane Weber)

Sacramento leaders denounce antisemitism after chaotic city council meetings

After a man repeatedly made antisemitic comments at recent city council meetings, culminating in protests and outright chaos last week, members of the Sacramento community are taking a public stand against hatred.

Representatives from Jewish and other religious and civic organizations, including the NAACP, hosted a press conference on Tuesday that highlighted their solidarity and resolve to fight antisemitism.

“If we are only concerned with ourselves, then hatred and ignorance wins,” said Rabbi Mona Alfi of Sacramento’s Congregation B’nai Israel. “But when we stand together united against all forms of discrimination, supporting each other, then our society becomes stronger.” Rabbi Evan Rubin of the Kenesset Israel Torah Center also attended.

The event was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region and the affiliated Sacramento Jewish Community Relations Council, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The press conference came in the wake of disruptions at council meetings this spring.

The disrupter, Ryan Messano, who has been described in the California press as a “perennial gadfly” who frequently attends public meetings to spout homophobic and antisemitic views, had been regularly speaking during public comment sections of Sacramento City Council meetings since April.

When we stand together united, then our society becomes stronger.

On May 23, he appeared with four allies, including a man wearing merchandise from the Goyim Defense League, a virulently antisemitic, homophobic and racist group.

At Tuesday’s press conference, community leaders stood before a sign that read “Not in Our Town” and held signs that said “Love Not Hate.”

Speakers included representatives from the Sacramento LGBT Center, Sacramento Central Labor Council, Asian Resources Inc., PICO California, Midtown Church and Sacramento Area Congregations Together, as well as retired Monsignor Jim Murphy of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, all of whom attended in support of the Jewish community.

“The unity behind you did not come about just out of the blue. It came from years of communities and leaders, building it step by step, brick by brick,” said Jason Weiner, chair of the Sacramento JCRC.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg could not attend the event but spoke in support of it in a statement to J.

“When antisemitism or any form of hate speech rears its ugly head, we must call it out and not let it go unanswered,” the Jewish mayor wrote. “I commend them for using their platform to speak out strongly against the hatred and bigotry that has been perpetrated by a small group of professional trolls. It doesn’t matter if it’s at a city council meeting or social media, people should speak up and speak out against hate.”

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.