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Members of the ‘Goyim Defense League’ (GDL) Spout Anti-Jewish Hate during Illinois City Council Meeting

Evanston’s City Council, perhaps for the first time ever, invoked its 45-minute limit on public comment Thursday night after a number of speakers delivered antisemitic remarks.

One, who gave his name as Sammy Raymo and wore a hat with a logo of the racist GoyimTV website operated by the neo-Nazi Goyim Defense League, said hate speech is as protected as any speech under the constitution and claimed the media and government are controlled by Jews. The Jewish advocacy group StopAntisemitism has been tracking the activities of those responsible – the Goyim Defense League’ or ‘GDL’ for over five years and state they vilify Jews with their premeditated hate campaigns.

Another speaker, on Zoom, claimed to have seen rabbis coming out of sewers in the area of Beth Emet synagogue “with blood on their faces.”

Mayor Daniel Biss turned off the mikes of some of the speakers and reminded them of City Council Rules, Section 6.8, that bars speakers from using “abusive language.”

The handful of antisemitic speakers were interspersed among a much larger crowd of residents who wanted to talk about the potential lease of a new civic center or the fate of a decaying low-income housing development on Wesley Avenue.

A group of supporters of the antisemitic speakers were following along with the session, posting comments on a 4chan message board.

Although one of the antisemitic speakers claimed to live in the 8th Ward, Evanston Now was unable to establish that any of them actually live in Evanston.

The City Council Rules, Section 6.2, says “The business of the City Council shall commence no later than 45 minutes after the beginning of Public Comment.”

But typically Mayor Daniel Biss, and his predecessors, have let the comment period run longer.

Thursday night Ald. Devon Reid (8th) urged the mayor to cut off the comment period at about the 45 minute mark.

“I firmly believe in the right of freedom of speech,” Reid said, but added that the Council appeared to be faced with “a coordinated effort to make totally disgusting comments.”

Reid said he’s been working with the Anti-Defamation League and that it’s become clear that we’re living “in frightening times.”

Seeing no opposition from other council members, Biss concluded the comment period at that point, inviting anyone who hadn’t been heard to email the city clerk with their remarks to be shared with the council.