With so much focus on controversial monuments, it is easy to forget that those alt-right groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, weren’t rallying just to defend their beloved statues. They also were using the event to terrorize Jews. This was done under the cover of free speech.

The rallying cry of the Unite the Right marchers was: “Jews will not replace us.” Chris Cantwell, who led the march, was also clear in his televised remarks against Jews, declaring: “We’re not nonviolent. We’ll (expletive) kill these people if we have to.”

Prior to the march, neo-Nazi websites had already called for Charlottesville’s only synagogue to be burned down. So the area around that building should have been off-limits to armed protesters and protected, by federal troops if necessary.

Yet on Aug. 12, neo-Nazis were allowed to march in that area. They not only added more venomous anti-Semitic taunts to their rallying chant, but also flaunted torches, assault weapons, helmets and body armor, adorned with Confederate and Nazi symbols. One of those injured by the terrorist driver was a member of the congregation.

It is appalling that the neo-Nazis were not arrested and charged. Jews should be able to carry out their religious and secular routines without fearing for their safety. They do not need to re-experience the traumas of Hitler’s Nazism on American soil.

It is imperative that such acts be classified as domestic anti-Semitic terrorism, punishable by federal law. Adequate funding must also be provided to combat this evil effectively.

Patricia Council

Portland