AUSTIN, Texas - The Central Texas community stood together in solidarity against hate after a recent spike in incidents of antisemitism. Community organizations gathered at the Texas Capitol for a 'Rally for Kindness' to unify the community.
The event was created by ATXKind with the support of Shalom Austin and the Anti-Defamation League Austin. Saturday's rally was all about kindness, compassion, and inclusiveness. Local groups are condemning the actions and say hate has no place in Central Texas.
“The anti-Semitic acts committed against greater Austin are unacceptable and they do not represent what Austin is now and what it will become," Shalom Austin Board Chair, Rick Rosenberg said.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Texas Capitol to rally for a kinder Austin.
“The time for silence, the time for caution has passed. We are all called to act to choose kindness, to act against hate,” Austin Council Member, Alison Alter said.
The Jewish, LGBTQ+, and communities of color are healing after acts of hate over the past few weeks. The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue was set on fire by an 18-year-old man. Rabbi Steven Folberg said the fire resulted in $150,000 in damage. At the podium, he said communities from across the country have been pitching in to help with donations.
Anti-Semitic and white supremacist stickers were found in two Austin parks on Friday and recently demonstrations were held over Mopac overpasses. Anderson High School was vandalized with racist words and symbols.
“Personally, when I saw that not only was it hurtful, but it was also not as shocking as you might think,” Anderson High School senior, Ford McCracken said.
McCracken is one of the many students impacted by the hurtful words and anti-Semitic symbols.
“Because when you see swastikas put on your school's property you don’t feel safe at school,” he said.
Students came together after the incident to turn a negative into a positive. McCracken helped organize Painting Positivity to help bring light back to the school after it was defaced. Younger students who attended the rally are taking note.
“Being our age it’s one of the best things we can do with the actual amount of power we have to do things,” Mia Ansel said.
“We need to educate our generation more so that we can be better for the future," Kennedy Quintanilla said.
Community leaders say silence is no longer acceptable.
“That silence allowed the hate to spread from the fringe to those that weren’t quite in the fringe but were nearby,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.
If you've witnessed or experienced hate or antisemitism it can be reported to the Anti-Defamation League.