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Utah Jewish federation condemns use of syringe swastika at anti-vaccine protest at Governor's Mansion

Bri Bright

A Utah Jewish group is condemning the use of a swastika displayed at a small anti-COVID-19 vaccine protest at the Governor's Mansion in Salt Lake City on Sunday.

Photos taken from the protest show participants standing on the lawn of the mansion displaying a large red, white and black flag that appears to be fashioned after the Nazi flag, with a swastika symbol crafted out of vaccine syringes.

"We as Americans, regard Nazi symbols as signifiers of the worst hatred, racism and crimes against humanity the world has ever known," the United Jewish Federation of Utah said Monday in a news release. "We have in our community survivors, children of survivors, and brave liberators of the camps where these symbols flourished. The use of such symbols legitimize antisemitism and points to a growing lack of education amongst our citizens of the horrors perpetuated by hate and racism."

Gov. Spencer Cox's office said the governor was out of town Sunday and did not see the protest.

The demonstration took place late afternoon on Sunday, according to Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden. Between 20 and 30 people participated in the event and there were no issues reported, Roden added.

Demonstrators displayed another large banner with a photo of Cox wearing a mask, referring to him as "the real virus," as well as a Gadsden flag and other anti-vaccine signs, according to photos taken of the protest.

The Jewish federation encouraged people to use the opportunity to educate. School districts should adopt the Anti-Defamation League's "No Place For Hate" program to encourage youth to embrace tolerance and acceptance, the federation's statement says.

"Those who chose to protest have added great pain to many in our community. While we fully support the freedom of expression in our country, the use of such symbols should not be given a free pass," the Jewish federation's statement says.