Southbury leaders denounce sign that likened Democratic Party to Nazis
Southbury officials are reminding the public that hate has no home in the town after a group referred to the Democratic Party as the "modern day Nazi Party."
News 12 is told a small group rallied against the Democratic Party on Saturday on Playhouse Corner. The group allegedly displayed a banner that included a donkey with a swastika.
“That corner has long been a place where folks have stood to share their points of view,” says Selectman Mike Rosen (D-Southbury). “I will defend their right to peacefully assemble to my very last breath,” says Rosen. “I'm a very strong believer in the First Amendment, but they crossed that line this past weekend.”
Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Steve Ginsberg believes the rally is a sign of trouble.
“When we see people using the swastika, a symbol of the Nazi regime and the impact and trauma that that must have on the survivors of the Holocaust and their families and frankly anybody who understands what happened there—is really troubling,” says Ginsberg.
The Anti-Defamation League monitors extremist activity and hate. Ginsberg says he’s been in touch with Southbury officials about the town's response.
“They’re working to make sure they make a clear statement and let people in Southbury and elsewhere know that this is not what Southbury is,” says Ginsberg.
A meeting was held Wednesday evening to condemn the sentiments. It was open to the public and streamed online. The first selectman says there wasn't any public comments on the agenda because it’s a special meeting.
“This isn't about Democrats or Republican ideology. This is about the ideology of white nationalism and white supremacy,” says Rosen.
The Chair of Connecticut's Democratic Party weighed in, saying in part, "I call on every Republican elected leader and every aspiring Republican leader to denounce, not in quiet phone calls, but to publicly declare that hate and hateful symbols have no place in Connecticut."
Rosen tells News 12 the ordeal “really cheapens the memory of the millions of lives lost in the Holocaust…but it also doesn't speak to the values of Southbury.”
The Southbury Board of Selectman approved a statement in a 4-0 vote Wednesday night. Two Selectmen, George Bertram (R) and Emily Harris (R), were unable to attend but submitted letters of support for the statement: "The Board of Selectmen has been informed that a group of protestors at Playhouse Corner displayed a swastika on Saturday, July 24, 2021. We are saddened and disturbed to learn that this has occurred in our Town. Southbury has a rich history of opposition to the Nazi symbol and what it stands for. The display of a swastika or similar symbols of hate, which are a false analogy to the reality of the Holocaust, have no place in Southbury. Displays such as this cheapen the memory of the millions of lives lost and ignore the trauma that lasts for generations. While our Board certainly respects the right of protestors to assemble peacefully and speak freely on topics of interest to them, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of any symbols of hate to do so. The display of a swastika in the Town of Southbury is contrary to everything we believe in as a community. Our Board stands strongly against hate and bigotry in all its forms, and together with all those in our community who expect and deserve to know that their elected leaders will work together to ensure that all people feel safe in Southbury."