Battery Park City residents and elected officials gathered in a show of solidarity outside of the Museum of Jewish Heritage last week just days after the building’s entrance was defiled with a confederate flag.
A large group — including many children — arrived at 36 Battery Place just before 4 p.m. on Jan. 14, joining neighbors, educators, politicians, students, and sympathetic persons who held a vigil after a confederate flag was discovered tied to the museum’s doors overnight on Jan. 8.
The flag was found two days after a mob of Trump supporters, a number of whom bore symbols of white supremacy such as the confederate flag, attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Attendees held signs condemning acts of hatred during a moment of silence that kicked-off the ceremony.
The confederate flag — a symbol of racial inequality associated with the Civil War and the white supremacist movement — was found mere feet away from a train car that once transported Jewish families to the Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.
Speakers at the Jan. 14 rally included persons of all ages from the elementary school, along with those representing the museum itself. Jack Kliger, president & CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, looked out at the sea of humanity who had assembled, humbled by the display of unity.
“I want to just say how appreciative we are, how heartened we are by this show of support with our wonderful neighbors. The fact that they chose to put that symbol of hate in front of our building, and in front of this symbol of not only what hate did but of what hate can do is obviously very troubling. When I look out here and see all of these people, this rainbow of people of all ages, and sizes and colors, it shows us what love can do. This will not stop us. This will not deter us. We will fight hate and will fight ignorance. We will show people there is a better way,” said Kliger, highlighting the motto inscribed above the entranceway, “There is hope for the future.”
Several elected officials also attended the vigil, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, state Senators Brad Hoylman and Brian Kavanagh, and Assembly member Yuh Line Niou, who made a point to take a stand against bigotry and hatred.
“The action that was taken was one that was super painful for our community. It was after this act of domestic terrorism on our capitol. This is a museum where I held my inauguration, this is the museum where we have read, out loud, the words of Elie Wiesel, this is the museum where we come for solace and remembrance. We know that the confederate flag has become a symbol of hate, has become a symbol of white supremacy and it was hung here purposefully to try and breed fear into our community,” an emotional Niou said.
Although the vigil lasted less than 30 minutes, community members ensured one another that their stand against intolerance will last a lifetime.