Protesters Target Illinois’ Jewish Governor With Swastikas, Nazi Death Camp Slogan

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Springfield, Illinois, on Friday afternoon to rally against Gov. JB Pritzker’s extended stay-at-home order.

Most of the demonstrators who participated in the rally outside the Capitol did not wear face coverings or adhere to social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While many in the crowd carried signs calling for an end to the weeks-long lockdown, some protesters were seen displaying signs of hatred and anti-Semitic messages targeting Gov. Pritzker.

WGEM’s Capitol Bureau Chief Mike Miletich shared a photo on Twitter of Jackie Fletcher, who told NBC 25 that she had driven over two hours from Morris to participate in the protest.

Fletcher proudly displayed a sign “Heil, Pritzker” with a large swastika.

The Pritzker family is Jewish and started their life in Chicago after fleeing pogroms in Kyiv, according to local Peoria station NBC 25.

The protester pointed out that she had written “Re-Open Illinois” on the other side of her sign, as “some people get touchy about swastikas.”

“I’m here to protest the loss of our rights,” Fletcher told the NBC station. “We’re protesting for our First Amendment and other things. Our speech isn’t really being prohibited, but our freedom is. We’re unable to leave the house and have to wear a mask.”

The American Jewish Committee in Chicago responded to the woman’s sign with this statement sent to the Capitol Bureau: “At least two signs at an anti-shutdown protest at the State Capitol in Springfield today compared Pritzker to Hitler. Regardless of one’s politics, comparisons between our state’s efforts to save lives and the slaughter of millions are offensive, irresponsible and downright dangerous,” said Executive Director Laurence Bolotin.

The Midwest region Anti-Defamation League condemned one Trump supporter’s sign that read: “7,700+ People Died Everyday Before This Wuhanvirus.”

“Deeply concerned by some of the posters at today’s rallies in Springfield and Chicago,” the statement read. “The scapegoating and racist attacks on Asian Americans and the offensive use of a swastika and Nazi references have no place in Illinois or America.”

In another shockingly racist display, a woman held up a sign reading: “Arbeit Macht Frei,” a German phrase meaning “work sets you free”. The slogan is known for appearing on the entrance of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. The sign also added the initials “JB,” an apparent anti-Semitic reference to Gov. JB Pritzker’s faith.

Dennis Kosuth, a registered nurse, shared the shocking image on Twitter. He tweeted: “This was one of the signs at the ‘Re-open Illinois’ event today. She assured those that she was not a Nazi, and stated, ‘I have Jewish friends.’ Thank you for representing yourself and your ‘movement’ for what it is.”

In a subsequent tweet, Kosuth responded to Twitter users who had apparently mixed up an AP Fact-Check calling out a similar sign, which had been photoshopped, that came from a different protest.

“I’m good at putting big needles into little veins, and know how to push the red button to take a picture,” he responded. “I definitely don’t know how to photoshop a mess like this – definitely a sad reflection on what’s going on.”

“I took it with my own phone, I can’t make this up, this is actually the sad state some people exist in,” he wrote to another skeptic.

During the rally, a pastor from The Grove Fellowship took the microphone and told the crowd, “We live in the land of Lincoln, but we stand here today as slaves.”