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'It was disgusting': Gov. DeWine strongly condemns anti-Semitic sign displayed at Ohio Statehouse protest

'If they're carrying anti-Mike DeWine signs, they've got a right to do that. But anti-Semitic signs? That's just wrong.'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While polls have shown the vast majority of Ohioans support Gov. Mike DeWine's actions during the coronavirus pandemic, not everyone agrees, and those on the other side have made their opinions known by protesting outside the Statehouse and elsewhere.

DeWine has repeatedly stated that citizens have a right to use their First Amendment freedoms to express their displeasure, but on Wednesday, he drew a line after a bigoted sign made the rounds on social media.

The sign features a blue cartoon rat with anti-Semitic features and a Star of David, along with the words "The Real Plague." State Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) tweeted out a photo of the sign and the men standing with it, urging his followers to expose them.

DeWine confirmed during today's press briefing he has seen the photo, and called it "disgusting" and "sad." He said he respects those who don't like what he is doing, but stressed racism is "not fair game."

"I think everyone has an obligation to denounce it," he said. "If they're carrying anti-Mike DeWine signs, they've got a right to do that. But anti-Semitic signs? That's just wrong."

The governor made particular mention of his late father Richard, a World War II veteran. While serving in Europe, the elder DeWine got a first-hand look at a liberated concentration camp in Germany, where just a fraction of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust were kept. The experience stuck with the devoutly Catholic DeWine family, notably Mike.

"I don't remember [exactly] what he saw, but I remember him telling me since the time I was a little kid what he had seen," the governor said, choking up a bit. "He never forgot it his whole life."

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Anti-Semitic signs have been seen at other protests across the country too, along with Confederate flags (even in states who fought on the Union side during the Civil War). Despite this, DeWine has refused to outright condemn the majority of protesters (most whom are not displaying such images), again reiterating that they have a right to speak their minds and express their anger about the current situation.

Watch DeWine's full briefing in the player below:

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