Anti-masker chants ‘heil Hitler’ in front of Black and Jewish Michigan school board members

Rabbi expresses sadness at ‘a real trivialisation of the Holocaust, of Nazim’ following anti-mask takeover of meeting

Gino Spocchia
Friday 20 August 2021 13:42
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<p>Wednesday’s meeting of the Birmingham, Michigan, school board</p>

Wednesday’s meeting of the Birmingham, Michigan, school board

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A man is reportedly under investigation in Birmingham, Michigan, after he chanted “heil Hitler” in front of Black and Jewish members of a school board, which announced the introduction of face masks in classrooms.

The man, who has not been identified, was allegedly watching the Birmingham Board of Education meeting on Wednesday evening when he yelled out “heil Hitler” and saluted from the audience.

He was among the students, parents and members of the public who filled two rooms of the building to watch the school board debate a mandate on face masks.

“I’m more sad than angry because what it means is a real trivialisation of the Holocaust, of Nazism, and it’s a real breakdown in civil discourse,” said Rabbi Asher Lopatin, a local rabbi.

“As a Jew, it hurts. It’s painful. A million and a half children died in the Holocaust so it’s just unbelievable that this was at a school board meeting.”

According to ClickOnDetroit, many parents told board members that masks were against “science” and “common sense”, and that children were at “zero risk” from Covid. Neither is true.

At least one parent said she would be removing her daughter from school.

The man who shouted the offensive slogan was comparing a school board member to the Nazi figure, after board members announced the reintroduction of face masks for schools. He was removed shortly after by police.

As The Detroit Metro Times reported, the salute came as a Black woman and Jewish woman were addressing the board in support for mask wearing. The school board said in a statement that “emphatically denounces and will not tolerate any act of racism, disrespect, violence and/or inequitable treatment of any person, including actions and statements made at Board of Education meetings”.

It comes amid increasing rates of infection in Birmingham and across Michigan, and while many school-age children remain too young to be vaccinated against Covid. School boards across the US have also debated whether or not to introduce face masks to slow the spread of the virus.

The number of fully vaccinated adults in Michigan, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, is around 54 per cent. Cases are meanwhile rising in the state, with 23,323 cases confirmed in the past fortnight, according to data from Michigan’s health department.

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