A protester later identified as a known white supremacist unfurled a Nazi flag at a Bernie Sanders rally in Phoenix.
The incident caught on social media shows a man in the higher seats of the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum unfurling the swastika flag on Thursday. Sanders, the Vermont senator vying with former vice president Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, is Jewish.
A man brought a literal Nazi flag to the rally of a Jewish Socialist candidate for President
He was escorted out by security forcespic.twitter.com/KOLhyJJFxZ
— Siddak Ahuja (@SiddakAhuja) March 6, 2020
The man was subdued and taken out. Imraan Siddiqi, a staffer with the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations, posted a photo on Twitter of someone standing on the flag and tagged “snatched from a Nazi.”
“Whoever it was, I think they’re a little outnumbered tonight,” The Washington Post quoted Sanders as saying.
Sanders on Friday said, speaking “as a Jewish American” and “as someone whose family was wiped out by Hitler,” “it is horrific, it is beyond disgusting that in the United States of America people who would show the emblem of Hitler and of Nazism.”
As someone whose family was wiped out by Hitler and as an American, to have in this country somebody bringing forth the most detestable symbol in modern history is unspeakable. pic.twitter.com/0TySmmxhgh
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 6, 2020
Biden also took to Twitter to condemn the incident. “I don’t care who you’re supporting, attacks like this against a man who could be the first Jewish President are disgusting and beyond the pale,” he said.
A reporter for ABC 15 Arizona posted video on Twitter of what appeared to be the protester sauntering out of the arena shouting a racial epithet.
WARNING: awful, derogatory language. ⚠️ Man just Kicked out of #BernieSanders rally. The guy in white shirt got into it with Bernie supporter, calls him N-word. Unclear what led to this. @SenSanders #Arizona #BernieForPresident #BernieRally pic.twitter.com/xr8Fe5Lqzd
— Nicole Grigg (@NicoleSGrigg) March 6, 2020
The Anti-Defamation League identified the white supremacist as Robert Sterkeson of Glendale, Arizona, who on multiple occasions has posted video of himself harassing Muslim and Jewish targets.
On Oct. 27, 2018, the day a white supremacist murdered 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue complex in Pittsburgh, Sterkeson unfurled a Nazi flag at a Jewish National Fund conference in the Phoenix area shouting anti-Semitic epithets while someone filmed him.
“Flying the swastika at Jewish National Fund conference on the same day as the synagogue shooting! #RobertBowersDidNothingWrong,” Sterkeson said at the time on social media.