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Cedar Rapids Police Under Fire for Slow Removal of Antisemitic Signs

The Cedar Rapids Police Department said in a statement to KCRG-TV9 it believes officers acted appropriately after responding to a neo-Nazi group hanging antisemitic signs earlier in November.

A body cam video shows another woman confronting officers and then trying to tear down signs, which say “Money runs the world and Jews own the banks. The truth is antisemitic” and “The Holocaust didn’t happen, but it should have”, over an Interstate 380 overpass on Wilson Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids.

According to the video, the two men guarding the sign have masks, declined to give their identity to the police, and attempted to film any interactions with police or other bystanders with a GoPro attached to one person’s head. The woman, who also doesn’t give her name in the video, along with commenters online, expressed frustration with police officers because they didn’t immediately take down the sign.

“Take it down,” she told an officer after trying to tear down the sign. “You know for a fact our community is being hurt by this.”

Mike Battien, who is a public safety communications specialist for the city of Cedar Rapids, said in an email the masked individuals denied ownership of the sign after they were told they would be cited because they were displayed unlawfully. He wrote the signs were then deemed abandoned property and removed.

“The video was reviewed from a legal perspective and confirms officers acted appropriately in all aspects,” Battien wrote, in an email.

TV9 has decided to not name the group because its goal, according to an interview its leader gave in a podcast, is to create media attention. TV9 did inspect the group’s Telegram channel, which is an app the group uses as a chatroom. The chatroom shows photographs and videos connected to other antisemitic incidents across Iowa, like flyers being placed on people’s driveways in Coralville earlier this month.

Coralville Police Chief Shane Kron said he believes the group is not local but based somewhere else in Iowa. He also said the person or group was identified by another law enforcement agency but said he couldn’t disclose the agency due to another possible investigation.

Lena Gilbert, who is from Springville and is the child of Holocaust survivors, said she was disappointed to see the video with the antisemitic signs. She said she has spent hours trying to recreate her family history through documents in Poland because she only has one picture of a family member past her parent’s generation.

“To get at this information has been a long journey, a big process, a lot of red tape, [it’s] been very emotional,” Gilbert said.

She said it’s ridiculous to think people don’t believe the Holocaust, which killed 6 million Jews, didn’t exist. Gilbert said her Dad has numbers tattooed on her arm because he was referred to as a number at Dachau. She said her mom survived after being in a gas chamber with too many people, then acted dead while Nazis threw her onto other dead bodies in railroad cars.