LOS ANGELES - Hundreds packed a Pico-Robertson high school gymnasium to hear from various elected officials, law enforcement, and community leaders on how to address antisemitism in the wake of two recent hate-motivated shootings in the area.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles hosted the town hall on "Antisemitism and Violence in the Jewish Community" at YULA Boys High School on Pico Boulevard. LA Mayor Karen Bass received a standing ovation as she took the podium.
"Today we’re not just here to stand in solidarity against last week’s shootings; we are here locked-arms against all forms of hate, bigotry, and discrimination, because antisemitism goes against the values of our city and goes against our humanity," she said.
Community members were invited to write questions on note cards that had been placed on their seats. Readers then collected the note cards and summarized questions for the speakers. Mayor Bass was asked about how to talk to children about antisemitism.
"I think the most important thing to tell them is that we will stamp this out, that people are standing in support with the Jewish community, and that it is not going to be tolerated in Los Angeles," she said. Many speakers suggested that education is key. "I know that hate crimes are terribly underreported, and I believe there needs to be a PR campaign to educate Angelenos about how to report hate crimes," said Bass.
"If I told each and every one of you that I loved you and I want to work with you, would that make headlines," asked LA County Sheriff Robert Luna, to laughter from the audience. "But if I said something up here filled with hate, would it immediately go all over this country? There’s a lesson to be learned there — do not give people who are promoting hate those headlines. We’ve got to figure out a way, because until we do that, nothing is going to change," he said as the crowd applauded.
Community members said they left feeling supported and hopeful for the future.
"I think it’s really encouraging to see the city, politicians and law enforcement really getting behind the Jewish community — we don’t feel like we’re alone here," said longtime Pico-Robertson resident Steve Rubin. "It’s just nice to know that people are thinking forward, and it was very satisfying."
For more information and resources, visit Jewishla.org.