Amongst the hundreds of Friday afternoon protestors opposing the extension of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order were two with anti-Semitic ones: one sign read, “Heil, Pritzker” with a large swastika next to it, and another read, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” the German phrase for “Work Makes You Free,” which appeared over the entrance to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps.
These signs were all the more ominous seeing as Pritzker is Jewish.
Considering the far-right’s interest in white supremacy and nationalism, it’s not really surprising to see far-right protestors embracing Nazi slogans and symbols. Nor is it surprising to hear that yesterday’s protestors outside of the state’s capitol building in Springfield largely disregarded facial masks and social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of coronavirus.
That’s all the more troubling when you realize that Illinois is the fourth U.S. state with the highest number of coronavirus cases (56,055) and deaths (2,457). The state had its highest number of new cases (3,137) on Friday, the same day the protest occurred.
Jackie Fletcher, the woman holding the swastika sign, told her local NBC news affiliate that she had “Re-Open Illinois” written on the other side of her sign because “some people get touchy about swastikas.”
“I’m here to protest the loss of our rights,” she continued. “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.”
Yes, you know those Nazis and their love of facial masks and making people stay at home for public health reasons: apples to apples.
The Nazi signs are just the latest escalation in right-wing anti-quarantine protests. On Thursday, armed Michigan right-wing extremists carrying firearms took over the Michigan Statehouse in an armed occupation that largely lacked face masks and social distancing as well.
There are many reasons to want to re-open state businesses despite the pandemic. Recognizing the ongoing epidemic’s economic devastation, Democratic and Republican governors alike have begun gradual re-openings of their states. But the protestors are overwhelmingly white and the Nazi symbols and firearms carry violent overtones meant to warn any “outsiders” who oppose their desire to “go back to normal” as quickly as possible, even if it kills us.
— Election dot Org (@DotElection) May 2, 2020
This is disgusting.
“Arbeit macht frei” (Work will set you free) is the Nazi slogan that appeared over Auschwitz & other concentration camps.
JB Pritzker is Illinois’ Jewish Governor.
It’s not about freedom.
It’s about bigotry. Defying public health. Antisemitism. Terror. https://t.co/6tM3KXTIl2
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) May 2, 2020
This sign is targeting Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is Jewish. They're not even hiding it. pic.twitter.com/ML1SEquOgu
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) May 2, 2020
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. pic.twitter.com/CcIX2SVu6s
— Dennis Kosuth, RN (@Dennis_Kosuth) May 1, 2020
Even if this person was trying to make the point that she thought Pritzker was being a Nazi(?), it doesn’t make sense since she’s the one who wants people to be able to work (to death)
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) May 1, 2020
Seen at the “re-open” protest in Illinois today.
Governor Pritzker is Jewish. pic.twitter.com/I9TCrMApXi
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) May 1, 2020
A few Things about these Illinois Nazi signs, which attack Governor Pritzker for trying to save lives:
#1 This moron is comparing A Jewish American to Hitler
#2 Putting a Swatzika on any sign is incredibly offensive to Jews
#3 Notice how these idiots are always near Trump flags pic.twitter.com/ltVtEkCQsL
— Ms. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) May 2, 2020
J.B. Pritzker may not be the best governor but this is fucking DISGUSTING. Comparing a Jewish man to Hitler is about ten thousand steps past too far. Fuck this woman. Fuck anyone who supports this. Springfield, I’m disappointed to be from here. pic.twitter.com/Kum2Qh9CUx
— samantha (@samantha_macke_) May 2, 2020
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Suicides never actually went up under COVID-19 as Trump suggested: report
President Donald Trump has spent the better part of the past several months justifying the reopening despite the COVID-19 pandemic by saying that people are dying whether it was from the coronavirus or something else.
“I mean, we have never closed the country before, and we have had some pretty bad flus, and we have had some pretty bad viruses" Trump said at a Fox News town hall in March. “You’re going to have suicides by the thousands.”
“People get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this when you have terrible economies. You have death," he said at a press briefing that same month. "Probably and — I mean, definitely — would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about with regard to the virus.”
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It is the first death reported in the various coronavirus vaccine trials taking place worldwide.
However, organizers of the study said an independent review had concluded there were no safety concerns and that testing of the vaccine, developed with pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, would continue.
Media reports said the volunteer was a 28-year-old doctor working on the front lines of the pandemic who died of complications from Covid-19.