Shelagh Fogarty is Leading Britain's Conversation.
16 August 2017, 14:03
The leader of the synagogue in Charlottesville has revealed the terror his worshippers were put through as armed neo-Nazis stood outside during the Unite The Right rally.
Alan Zimmerman, president of the Congregation Beth Israel in the Virginia town, revealed that the police rejected calls to provide any protection, despite the anti-semitic crowd congregating nearby.
And he said they had to put up with cried of "Seig Heil" and armed me stood across the street throughout the march.
In a blog post, he wrote: "On Saturday morning, I stood outside our synagogue with the armed security guard we hired after the police department refused to provide us with an officer during morning services. (Even the police department’s limited promise of an observer near our building was not kept — and note, we did not ask for protection of our property, only our people as they worshipped).
"Forty congregants were inside. Here’s what I witnessed during that time.
"For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple. Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either. Perhaps the presence of our armed guard deterred them. Perhaps their presence was just a coincidence, and I’m paranoid. I don’t know.
"Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, “There's the synagogue!” followed by chants of “Seig Heil” and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.
"A guy in a white polo shirt walked by the synagogue a few times, arousing suspicion. Was he casing the building, or trying to build up courage to commit a crime? We didn’t know. Later, I noticed that the man accused in the automobile terror attack wore the same polo shirt as the man who kept walking by our synagogue; apparently it’s the uniform of a white supremacist group. Even now, that gives me a chill.
"When services ended, my heart broke as I advised congregants that it would be safer to leave the temple through the back entrance rather than through the front, and to please go in groups.
"This is 2017 in the United States of America."
Over the weekend, a car deliberately drove into a counter-protest to the Unite The Right rally, killing Heather Heyer.