U.S. Mayor Attacked With anti-Semitic Tweets After Denouncing White Nationalist Rally

Charlottesville, Virginia Mayor Mike Signer, who is Jewish, praised a vigil against 'alt-right' protests. One of the reactions: 'I smell Jew'

A counter-protest against those on Saturday evening gathered to call on officials to halt the removal of a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Ryan M. Kelly/AP

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer was assaulted with a barrage of anti-Semitic tweets at the beginning of the week after he praised a Sunday vigil against white nationalists.

“Candlelight vigil against hate in Cville. These are the kind of ‘torches’ I like to see,” Signer, who is Jewish, wrote on Twitter following the vigil. The event was held a night after prominent “alt-right” figure Richard Spencer led a large group of torch-bearing ralliers to evoke “the days of the KKK” on Saturday.

Speaking at the first of two demonstrations protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park, Spencer proclaimed: "What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced.” The events came to an abrupt end after clashes between the nationalists and counter-protesters caught the attention of police forces.

Following Signer's praise of the counter-vigil, the former author and lawyer was attacked on Twitter. “I smell Jew. If so, you are going back to Israel. But you will not stay in power here. Not for long,” one tweet threatened, written under the username “Great Patriot Trump.” The account has since been suspended.

Signer was quick to respond. “Here is what this great country faces in this age of @realDonaldTrump — a sitting mayor subjected to anti-Semitism. I will not be intimidated,” he tweeted.

Signer told Reuters that the protests came on the day the city marked its annual Festival of Cultures celebrating diversity. “You’re seeing anti-Semitism in these crazy tweets I’m getting and you’re seeing a display of torches at night, which is reminiscent of the KKK,” Signer told Reuters. “They’re sort of a last gasp of the bigotry that this country has systematically overcome.”