About 20 protesters in Toledo, Ohio, picketed a festival organized by an LGBTQ advocacy group and later continued outside the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo, which called the protesters neo-Nazis.
The events Saturday began outside the Lost Fest event organized by the Equality Toledo LGBTQ advocacy group and continued opposite the offices of the Jewish group.
“Yesterday evening, over a dozen masked neo-Nazis carrying tiki torches attempted to harass attendees at an LGBTQ+ pride event in downtown Toledo before coming to the Jewish Toledo campus in Sylvania to harass Jews,” Laurie Gross, the president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo, wrote in a statement Sunday cosigned by three other Jewish community leaders.
“To members of our Jewish community, there are no known active threats at this time,” read the statement.
The cosignatories wrote that the Jewish community “unequivocally condemns these acts of hate meant to instill fear in our hearts and minds,” adding: “We are stronger than hate. We are united with our partners in the LGBTQ+ community, refusing to be silent in the face of baseless hatred.”
The statement did not elaborate on the protesters’ appearance or behavior in the parking lot of the complex of the Jewish community of Toledo, which includes the Federation offices and the B’nai Israel synagogue.
Joe Wood, chairman of the Equality Toledo board of directors, who was present at the festival, told the Toledo Blade of the protesters: “They were completely masked, black masks with red shirts and black pants and sunglasses,” adding: “One of the leaders was unmasked and had a bullhorn, and he led certain chants as they formed a line formation on the sidewalk of 13th [Street]. And they formed a straight line and did honestly what looked like Heil Hitler salutes.”
The protesters picketed the Love Fest event twice, first in the afternoon and then again in the evening, the Blade reported. Their appearance caused some of the event’s hundreds of participants to leave, Wood said. Dozens of people quickly departed, especially those with children, he told the Blade.
Sylvania Township Police Chief Paul Long told the Blade that the protesters arrived at the offices of the Jewish group after 9 p.m. and that they were the only people present there. “I don’t know who they thought would be there, or what. But there wasn’t a car in the parking lot,” Long said.