OpEd: Anti-Semitism on display in San Diego’s Chicano Park

Anti-Israel sign in Chicano Park (Photo: Kerry Schlossberg)

By Kerry Schlossberg

Kerry Schlossberg

SAN DIEGO — The Chicano Park in the city of San Diego has displayed anti-Semitic slogans (“Free Palestine’ / ‘From the river to the sea’) for more than a week on the official display board. A bipartisan resolution of the US Congress in November 2023 reaffirmed the genocidal, anti-Semitic meaning of these slogans (to see H.RES. 883).

This brazen expression of hatred against a minority group, using official city resources, is unprecedented in San Diego. Mayor Todd Gloria, the City Council and the Parks & Recreation Department have failed to remove it despite multiple requests for immediate action from San Diego Jewish community leaders since May 12, 2024.

The city of San Diego has a complex history in dealing with Chicano Park, which was taken over in 1970 by anti-American militants who declared it part of “Aztlán.” The city of San Diego has authorized a group of volunteers, the Chicano Park Steering Committee, to help manage the park.

According to the official website, Chicano Park “unlike other parks, was taken with militant violence by a community angry about decades of neglect, ignorance and racism” and “the only way to take that park away is to run through our blood.” wade.” Despite this threat of violence and open hostility, Chicano Park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016 and has received federal funding. The city of San Diego’s official website also refers to Chicano Park as a “National Landmark, Local Treasure.”

While City of San Diego officials may feel like their hands are tied, Chicano Park remains city property and could be addressed in the same manner as another park in California that experienced a hostile takeover in the same time frame. In Northern California, People’s Park was taken over by militants in 1969 and declared a cultural and historical landmark by the city of Berkeley in 1984. Yet it is now 2024 and People’s Park has recently been reclaimed, closed and cleared for housing. .

There is no doubt that the use of the city’s resources to promote anti-Semitism cannot be allowed to continue. There is also no doubt that the city can remove this official display.

On March 17, 2024, Council Member Vivian Moreno sent a letter to the Chicano Park Steering Committee, stating: “Every city park, including Chicano Park, should be welcoming and open to all people who wish to recreate peacefully, regardless of their faith, ethnicity or position on foreign policy issues… I respectfully request that the Steering Committee withdraw this immediately.” Despite her polite plea, the anti-Semitic sign remains prominently displayed in Chicano Park at the time of this article’s publication.

San Diego’s Jewish community deserves more than words of sympathy and support from city officials; these words must be backed up by quick action. There is no doubt that a message of hatred and intimidation aimed at any other religious and ethnic minority would have been removed as a top priority from an official exhibition in the city park.

Kerry Schlossberg is an attorney and board member of the House of Israel in Balboa Park.