An antisemitic hate group was behind a banner hung over a busy Los Angeles freeway on Saturday saying “Kanye is right about the Jews,” watchdog groups said, after Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, made a string of antisemitic comments in recent weeks.
A number of people could be seen raising their arms in a Nazi salute as they stood behind the banner and another sign that read: “Honk if you know.” A third banner promoted a video platform that streams antisemitic content operated by the Goyim Defense League, a network of antisemitic conspiracy theorists.
StopAntisemitism.org, a non-profit group dedicated to documenting antisemitic behavior said the GDL was responsible for hanging the banners above Interstate 405.
“Hate has no place in Los Angeles or elsewhere and these attempts will not divide us,” it said.
A number of high profile figures spoke out over the weekend against the recent rise in antisemitic discourse.
Kim Kardashian, Ye’s ex-wife, tweeted on Monday: “Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end.”
Reese Witherspoon wrote in a tweet Sunday night: “Anti-semitism in any form is deplorable. In person. Online. Doesn’t matter where. It’s hate and it’s unacceptable.”
“Completely understand why my Jewish friends/ colleagues are frightened for their families. This is a very scary time,” she said.
Comedian and actor Amy Schumer said in an Instagram post: “I support my Jewish friends and the Jewish people.”
From the White House to California’s top elected officials, political leaders also condemned the incident with the banner and the example set by Ye.
“@POTUS ran to heal the soul of the nation after years of hate and division. As part of this healing, we need to call out anti-Semitism everywhere it rears its ugly head. These actions in LA are disgusting and should be condemned,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote in a tweet.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said “hate speech opens the door to hateful action.”
“This weekend’s anti-Semitic protests in LA were disgusting and cannot be normalized or brushed aside,” Newsom tweeted. “Words matter, and in CA we’ll always speak out against racial, ethnic, and religious hate when it rears its ugly head.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said “LA is a city of belonging, not hate.”
“Jewish Angelenos should always feel safe,” Garcetti tweeted. “There is no place for discrimination or prejudice in Los Angeles. And we will never back down from the fight to expose and eliminate it.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said he was also “horrified by the vile anti-Semitism on display in LA this weekend.”
“Tragically it shows the power some hold to amplify hateful language, and how quickly they can persuade others to express their own bigotry,” he said, appearing to reference Ye’s recent comments, without naming the rapper outright. “We must condemn hate wherever we see it — immediately and forcefully.”
The incident comes after Ye, who has been vocal about his difficulties with mental health and has a history of posting erratically online, made a number of antisemitic comments on social media, resulting in the rapper seeing his Twitter and Instagram accounts temporarily restricted.
The talent agency CAA confirmed to NBC News on Monday it has stopped representing Ye as a client within the past month, but did not specify if the move was as a result of the comments.
Producers of online talk show “The Shop” also pulled an episode featuring the rapper after they said he used “hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes” during the taping.
As the rapper faced mounting backlash over his comments, it was announced last week that Ye had agreed to acquire the conservative-oriented social media app Parler.
Parliament Technologies, the parent company of Parler, announced last Monday it had “entered into an agreement in principle to sell Parler” to Ye, who it said was “taking a bold stance against his recent censorship from Big Tech.”
NBC News has contacted a representative for Ye for comment.
The ADL has warned that “extremists across the ideological spectrum,” including members of the GDL, have been embracing Ye’s antisemitic statements and celebrating news of his plans to acquire Parler.
In addition to Saturday’s incident, the ADL said the GDL was also attempting to “capitalize on Ye’s comments by targeting the Black community with their propaganda and seeking to convince Black people that Jews are a universal enemy.”
The ADL said members of the group’s Telegram chat were seen discussing new initiatives related to Ye’s comments, including creating fliers blaming Jewish people for the Atlantic slave trade, while some members claimed to have specifically targeted Black neighborhoods during recent propaganda distributions.
The Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments said they were investigating antisemitic fliers that were distributed in Beverly Hills, according to The LA Times. It is unclear if they were related to Saturday’s incident. The police departments did not immediately respond to an overnight request for more information.