ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Dozens gathered in downtown St. Petersburg for a rally against hatred on Thursday, one week after someone spray painted swastikas and an antisemetic message on the side of the Florida Holocaust Museum.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner – and newly-announced gubernatorial candidate – Nikki Fried was one of those in attendance.
“If we don’t come together as communities to talk about hatred and how to stomp it out then we are no better than the people that try to persecute us,” said Fried. “Being here today was so important for me to show support not only for this Holocaust museum but for Jews across the world.”
The vandals hit sometime before the morning of May 27. St. Petersburg police officers discovered the graffiti on the side of the building. Detectives are now investigating the incident as a hate crime, which is far more serious than a typical vandalism case.
But what the rattle can vandals may not have realized, is the positive effect this has had on the Jewish community. Elizabeth Gelman is the museum’s executive director.
“We have two choices when something like this happens. We can cower, we can go into ourselves, we can hide or we can speak out. We can find partners. We can lift the whole community,” said Gelman. “What we saw here at the museum really pushed us forward. It made us recommit to our mission of educating. So that this type of hatred is not seen.”