Universities of Florida and Georgia, SEC Condemn Antisemitic Messages in Jacksonville

The messaging was projected on the neutral-site stadium in Florida that was hosting the football game featuring the two SEC powerhouse programs.
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  • Following Saturday's matchup, hateful language was put on full display across the football stadium.
  • The University of Georgia and the University of Florida joined forces Sunday to speak out against the antisemitic messages displayed in multiple locations across Jacksonville, Florida.
  • The language that was used reflects other instances of antisemitism happening across the country, following remarks by rapper Ye.

The University of Florida (UF) and the University of Georgia (UGA) released a joint statement condemning antisemitic messages that were projected onto TIAA Bank Field and surrounding areas of Jacksonville, Florida, at the end of Saturday night's annual football matchup between the Gators and the Bulldogs.

Jacksonville has long been the host of the annual Southeastern Conference (SEC) rivalry game between the University of Georgia Bulldogs and the University of Florida Gators. This year, however, as fans were leaving TIAA Bank Field, they were met with the hateful antisemitic messaging.

"We strongly condemn the anti-Semitic hate speech projected outside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville after the Florida-Georgia football game Saturday night and the other anti-Semitic messages that have appeared in Jacksonville," the joint statement read. "The University of Florida and the University of Georgia together denounce these and all acts of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance. We are proud to be home to strong and thriving Jewish communities at UGA and UF, and we stand together against hate."

Vic Micolucci — a news anchor and investigative reporter in the Jacksonville area — first tweeted the video on Saturday night, which has accumulated over 3 million views, according to The Red & Black, UGA's independent student newspaper.

"This hate has to stop. Period," Micolucci tweeted.

According to the Independent Florida Alligator, this was not a standalone act of antisemitism in Jacksonville. Other hateful messages were written onto a banner and hung over an overpass prior to the game on Oct. 29, according to News4Jax.

The messaging references rapper Kanye West — now known as Ye — and his weekslong outbursts of antisemitism in interviews and on social media that have caused massive brands, such as Adidas, GAP, and Balenciaga, to drop him.

After both universities spoke out, the schools' student governments also condemned the messages.

In a shared statement, the student governments said Sunday evening, "Both the University of Georgia and the University of Florida are proud to have strong Jewish students, faculty, and staff, and we stand together to denounce the acts and all others of hatred and intolerance."

The SEC also posted a statement to its Instagram page Sunday.

"We take pride in the diversity of our campus communities and join the Universities of Georgia and Florida as we stand together against hate," the statement said.

TIAA, the bank that holds the naming rights to the Jacksonville stadium, also made a statement of its own on Twitter.

"We are horrified by and condemn the hate speech committed @TIAABankField last night and other acts of anti-Semitism so visible of late. TIAA stands with the Jewish community and remains committed to inclusion and tolerance for all," the statement said.

Shad Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL team that plays at TIAA Bank Field, tweeted that he was "personally dismayed" by the event.

"It's hurtful and wrong. It has to stop. I'm asking everyone to make it their mission to end the ignorance and hatred. Let's be better," he said.

The messages in Jacksonville replicated an event that took place in Los Angeles on Oct. 24.

A group who had their arms raised in "what appears to be the Nazi salute" stated their agreement with Ye on banners hung across an overpass, according to CNN.