During a March 5 2020 Bernie Sanders rally in Arizona, an individual seated in the venue unrolled a large Nazi banner as Sanders spoke:
In the above photograph, a smiling Sanders faced away from the banner. Video captured from a different perspective illustrated how the raised rows of seats enabled the man with the Nazi banner to make it very visible to all others in attendance:
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 also called a Sanders supporter a racial slur outside the venue:
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
Activists say they have identified him as an open white supremacist with a history of attention-seeking “disruptive” behavior.
Sanders has been reluctant to share personal details about his early life outside of context regarding his positions, but he has also mentioned that many of his extended family members died in the Holocaust; his father emigrated to the United States from Poland in 1921.
Progressive outlet Common Dream reported that Sanders was aware of the incident. He later added that the man with the Nazi flag was outnumbered at the Arizona rally:
The cheers for Sanders quickly turned to boos as the senator’s supporters noticed the man with the Nazi flag, which was quickly pulled down by someone in the crowd. The man was soon restrained by security and escorted from the venue.
It is unclear whether Sanders saw the flag in real time, but the senator’s spokesperson Mike Casca said following the event that Sanders is “aware of” and “disturbed by” it.
“Whoever it was, I think they’re a little outnumbered tonight,” Sanders said after the man was removed from the rally.
Common Dreams also reported that the incident amplified calls for security for Sanders at his rallies:
The alarming episode was viewed by some as evidence of the urgent need to enhance security for Sanders as he campaigns across the country. As the [Washington Post] reported, the “swastika flag was just one incident involving protesters that disrupted [the March 5 2020] event.”
“Later in the night, other people waving banners bearing President Trump’s name also got into minor scuffles with Sanders supporters and were promptly removed from the venue by uniformed officers,” the Post noted. “By late [that evening], another video surfaced, showing a man… outside the venue shouting the n-word at a black Sanders supporter.”
Four minutes later, Imraan Siddiqi tweeted two images suggesting that the man’s Nazi flag may have been confiscated:
By all accounts, the man was “escorted” out of Bernie Sanders’ rally not long after he unraveled the Nazi flag. After he was kicked out, he yelled racial slurs at another Sanders supporter.