Police in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been accused of being complicit in Charlottesville, Virginia, with the white supremacist attendees of “Unite the Right” rally, after they refused to protect a synagogue.
Alan Zimmerman, president of the Congregation Beth Israel in the Virginia town, wrote a blog post about the terrible outcome of the rally that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer, after a white supremacist plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters.
Several others were injured.
But it wasn’t just counter-protesters who faced a security threat at the hands of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the members of Ku Klux Klan and so-called alt-right, who roamed around the streets holding tiki torches and shouting slogans of white power.
The Jewish community, praying just 200 feet from the deadly rally were also at risk of being attacked.
According to Zimmerman, 40 members of the community prayed in the synagogue, but the local police refused to protect them.
“The police department refused to provide us with an officer during morning services,” he lamented in his blog post.
Far-right activists gathered just one block away from the synagogue, chanting anti-Semitic slogans, while people prayed inside the building.
The police department promised to provide “an observer” near the building but Zimmerman says it “was not kept” by the force leaving the congregation vulnerable to assault as they worshipped.
“For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple,” he wrote. “Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either.”
“Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, 'There's the synagogue!' followed by chants of 'Sieg Heil' and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols,” he continued.
Zimmerman explained how a Navy veteran volunteered to watch over the temple last Friday and Saturday along with the armed guards that the Jewish community had hired, after local police failed to provide protection.
After feeling threatened, Zimmerman advised Jewish worshippers it would be better if they exited the synagogue by the back door, “and to go in groups” to protect each other.
“This is 2017 in the United States of America,” he wrote.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst