ST. PETERSBURG -- "Last week, our museum was attacked, but tonight our museum was embraced."
Florida Holocaust Museum executive director Elizabeth Gelman used those words to end an hour long rally to support her museum and denounce the vandal or vandals who spray painted a wall with a swastika and antisemitic graffiti last Thursday.
Toni Rinde, a Holocaust survivor who was placed with a Polish family during World War Two and came to the United States at the age of seven, told the audience that when she heard about the news, she started to cry, then stopped. "Now is not the time for tears... that is exactly what those despicable people want... they will not win."
A pastor of a leading African-American church, a Roman Catholic priest, two rabbis and an imam were among those speaking at the rally.
Several politicians were on hand, including several state legislators, Republican congressman Gus Bilirakis and Democrat Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who announced her campaign for governor last week. Most didn't speak. One who did was St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who said it should be no surprise that antisemitism is on the rise across the nation. He and others referenced "the politics of the last four years." Only one speaker referenced the recent violence on Israel's border with Gaza.
Gelman told attendees that so many donations were received online following the attack that they shut the website down for a time.
Police have made no arrests in the case, which is being investigated as a hate crime.
Photo Graphic: Canva