A Seattle Jewish organisation has described the official reaction to antisemitic acts allegedly perpetrated by a senior police officer as “completely inadequate” and “an affront” to the Jewish community.
The criticism from the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle (JFGS) follows the response by city officials in the Kent area of Seattle, Washington, to offences in the summer of 2021 when Assistant Police Chief Derek Kammerzell allegedly posted a Nazi military insignia on his office door and made jokes about the Holocaust.
Mr Kammerzell was suspended for two weeks and ordered to attend cultural-sensitivity training. His claim that he did not know the symbol was of Nazi origin was accepted. In a statement released at the end of the year, Kent officials said that, based on labour law and on advice from two law firms that had reviewed the case, they believed a two-week suspension was “an appropriate and defensible response.”
JFGS described the response as “inexcusable” and said that it demonstrated “a complete lack of understanding of the impact” on the local Jewish community.
The group described the two-week suspension and sensitivity-training as “completely inadequate, especially at a time when incidents of hate against the Jewish people are higher than they’ve been in almost 45 years.”
JFGS called on the City of Kent to “publicly recognise the harm and hurt” caused to the Jewish community, adding that the “absence of true accountability” and “the sheer lack of consequences” were “shocking.”
This was an affront to the entire Puget Sound Jewish community, the group said said, adding: “Synagogues, Jewish community centres, and Jewish organisations rely on lawenforcement to help protect them from violent, antisemitic attacks.”