The antisemitic and anti-Trump sign was spotted during the Jan. 17 pro-Trump protests at the state capitol.
Protests held at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Sunday, Jan. 17, to oppose the results of the U.S. presidential election were largely peaceful and sparsely attended outside of a few members of right-wing fringe movements, some counter-protesters and members of the media.
But one image was familiar to those who have been tracking Michigan antisemitic incidents.
A Lansing photo captured by Associated Press reporter Anna Liz Nichols depicted a man wearing a placard with a sign showing a caricature of President Trump wearing a yarmulke, holding a menorah in one hand and an Israel flag in the other. Text on the sign reads, “Hey, Donald! We thought you said America First!”
That same sign, which perpetuates many antisemitic tropes, has appeared at weekly anti-Israel protests held outside Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor by a small group that calls itself Witness For Peace. A Jewish News photographer captured evidence of the sign being used at an Ann Arbor protest in February 2020.
The Ann Arbor protests have occurred weekly, timed to Shabbat morning services, for nearly two decades, and are largely organized by anti-Israel activists Henry Herskovitz and Chris Mark. Other signs at the Beth Israel protests have included slogans such as “Jewish Power Corrupts” and “End Jewish Supremacism in Palestine.”
A lawsuit filed by congregants against the protesters, claiming they impeded congregants’ rights to peacefully practice their religion, was dismissed in district court in August.
The Michigan chapter of the Anti-Defamation League has recently classified these protests as antisemitic incidents. Herskovitz and Mark both have documented histories of antisemitic speech.
Nichols told the JN she was unable to identify the man with the sign in Lansing, but that he was “walking around trying to pick physical fights with people.” There was no immediately apparent documented link between Witness For Peace and the various groups, including the far-right extremist group Boogaloo Boys, whose members were represented at the Lansing protest.
This is not the first time that antisemitic signs have shown up in conjunction with anti-government and pro-Trump protests in Lansing. April 2020 protests held against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 lockdown orders produced signage evoking Nazi imagery.