A day after a swastika display was ripped down from a Sacramento home, a new sign appeared Tuesday on the front door with the word “TERRORISM?” written in large letters and several other words written smaller.
The home on Moddison Avenue in River Park has been a source of controversy in recent weeks as neighbors and elected officials have called on the resident to remove signs with a swastika replacing the blue Star of David on an Israeli flag and a swastika replacing the stars on an American flag. While critics expressed their outrage, they generally acknowledged that the resident had the First Amendment right to keep his display outside his house.
The swastika signs remained until Monday night, when a man who identified himself as Robert Dixon, a Granite Bay resident, said he took them down, describing the display as despicable.
Dixon, who said he is neither Jewish nor a former military member, said he protested at UC Davis a few weeks ago after the student senate adopted a resolution calling for the University of California to divest itself of businesses with ties to Israeli military actions. He also attended a Monday night rally at the state Capitol denouncing acts of anti-Semitism. After the rally, “I felt compelled to do what I did,” Dixon said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening.
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The display on the duplex has angered neighbors and legislators who view the swastikas on the American and Israeli flags as unpatriotic and anti-Semitic.
A man who lives there has refused to speak to reporters. The longtime owners of the duplex are listed in property records as Douglas M. and Mary K. Clark. They could not be reached Tuesday.
Dixon said he and the resident exchanged a few words as Dixon tore down the signs. “I called him a coward and he called me a violent extremist something,” Dixon said.
Dixon said he remained at the scene for an hour, sitting on the tailgate of his truck waiting in case the resident called police, but no officers arrived.
The sign posted Tuesday has words written in blue letters, the same color as the Israeli flag. The words in small letters include: “Violent Intolerant Extremism fanatical heretical authoritarian racist.”
Dixon said he recognizes that there is a fine line when it comes to free speech, but he said this type of speech should not be tolerated.
Dixon, 55, said he spent 13 years in prison but turned his life around after his release in 1995 and now operates a landscaping business. “America has given me so many chances,” he said.
Dixon said the resident who put up the swastikas likely is as passionate about his cause as Dixon is about his, but Dixon said he has no interest in engaging the resident in conversation.
Durnig the Monday evening rally at the Capitol, community activists and elected officials condemned anti-Semitism. They cited the River Park display and hate crimes at Jewish-affiliated organizations in Davis earlier this year.
Some protesters showed up to criticize Jewish military actions against Palestinians. One man, Paul Leuenberger, said it is possible to criticize Israeli actions without being critical of Jewish people. But he condemned the River Park signs and said his Sacramento Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement group asked the resident to take them down.
In addition to the swastika flags, a crude wooden statue draped in green fatigues with arms raised was positioned next to the home. On Tuesday, the dismantled display was on the front yard of the residence.
“I’m just so glad I did what I did,” Dixon said. “And I’m glad I didn’t go to jail.”
Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.