Anti-vaccine mandate protesters displayed a swastika and yellow Star of David outside the office of New York state lawmaker Jeffrey Dinowitz, who is Jewish, on Sunday. The protest, organized by Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, came after Dinowitz, a Democrat representing part of the Bronx, sponsored a bill in October that would require all students be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend school. Dinowitz later tweeted photos from the event, showing a man with a yellow star pinned to his jacket and a woman, standing feet from Astorino, holding a sign with a swastika and "Nuremberg Code," referring to the code of medical ethics created in response to Nazi experiments on concentration camp prisoners.
Anti-vax protesters have claimed vaccine mandates are akin to medical experiments during the Holocaust and have sometimes used a yellow Star of David as a mark of their alleged oppression, reports the Washington Post. This has been backed by some leaders in the Republican Party. Over the summer, John Bennett, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, wrote on Facebook that the Nazis "gave [Jewish people] a star to put on, and they couldn't go to the grocery store, they couldn't go out in public, they couldn't do anything without having that star on their shirt," per the Post. "Take away the star and add a vaccine passport," he added.
"People are perfectly free to express their opinion on vaccines or any issue, but to openly display Nazi symbols outside the office of a Jewish legislator is despicable," Dinowitz tweeted Sunday. "All Republican leaders should condemn this unacceptable use of anti-Semitic imagery," he added, claiming Astorino stood by and "said NOTHING," per WPIX. He was backed by colleagues, some of whom called on Astorino to immediately condemn the imagery, per the Mount Pleasant Daily Voice. The former two-term Westchester county executive responded that he hadn't seen the sign the woman was holding as she'd carried a different one when they met prior to the event. "I would have stopped and had it removed," he added, noting there was "no comparison to those atrocities." (More swastikas stories.)