Speed Reads

'hate speech is never OK'

California officials denounce 'vile' antisemitic banners over L.A. freeway

Leaders in California have condemned an antisemitic hate group that stood above a busy Los Angeles freeway over the weekend with multiple banners, including one that read, "Kanye is right about the Jews."

The banner referenced recent remarks made by rapper Kanye West, who now goes by the name Ye. After being criticized for wearing a "White Lives Matter" shirt at his YZY runway show in Paris, West tweeted, "I'm a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I'm going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE." He has since had his Instagram and Twitter accounts locked.

The banners were placed on a bridge above Interstate 405 on Saturday, and witnesses recorded several people standing near them raising their arms in the Nazi salute. The non-profit organization StopAntisemitism.org says the Goyim Defense League was responsible for the banners. They are "known for espousing vitriolic antisemitism and white supremacist ideology," the Anti-Defamation League of Southern California tweeted.

Political leaders quickly denounced the banners, with California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) tweeting, "Hate speech opens the door to hateful action. This weekend's antisemitic protests in L.A. were disgusting and cannot be normalized or brushed aside. Words matter, and in California we'll always speak out against racial, ethnic, and religious hate when it rears its ugly head." Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tweeted that he was "horrified" by the "vile antisemitism" on display, adding, "tragically, it shows the power some hold to amplify hateful language, and how quickly they can persuade others to express their own bigotry."

Hollywood celebrities are also speaking out against the rise in antisemitic incidents, including West's ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, who tweeted on Monday, "Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end." Reese Witherspoon agreed, posting on Twitter Sunday night, "Antisemitism in any form is deplorable. In person. Online. Doesn't matter where. It's hate and it's unacceptable. Completely understand why my Jewish friends/colleagues are frightened for their families. This is a very scary time."

On Monday afternoon, the talent agency CAA confirmed that within the last month it stopped representing West as a client, but did not say if it was due to his antisemitic statements.