The Jewish Press, a New York-based publication that leans right politically, has taken aim at the story of the Shorewood attorney who spit in the face of a young protestor.
The publication’s article Tuesday, “Harassed by BLM Mob, Attorney Stephanie Rapkin Spits on Intimidating Protester,” led to a stir among supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement in digital Milwaukee. The brief piece was shared repeatedly, and some posted comments calling the coverage slanted.
The article refers to a Black Lives Matter “mob” and an “intimidating” protestor, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other local news organizations have not described the scene this way. While The Jewish Press has run articles critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, much of the rest of American Judaism has expressed support for the movement.
In fact, the Saturday rally where a Shorewood attorney reportedly blocked the path of protestors with her car was co-organized by Noah Wolfe, who is Jewish. He co-organized with people from the local black community.
Wolfe, 20, a graduate of Milwaukee Jewish Day School and a student at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, was in the middle of the march as the incident was brewing. “I got walkie–talkied to come to the front,” he said.
According to police and media reports, Stephanie Rapkin, 64, of Shorewood, parked her car to obstruct the march in Shorewood, near Metro Market. Video shows that when confronted, Rapkin spit in the face of Shorewood High School junior Eric Lucas, who is black. She has since been charged with battery and disorderly conduct.
Wolfe said he arrived as the incident took place. He then helped lead the crowd out of the area, he said.
In the video, protestors appear to ask her to move her car. People can be seen encircling the Shorewood attorney with their arms, apparently to protect her from any potential harm. But the report in The Jewish Press says she was “harassed” by the mob.
Rabbi David Cohen of Congregation Sinai in Fox Point, a local Jewish leader known for protesting in favor of immigrant rights and other causes, was among the speakers at the start of the march at Atwater Park in Shorewood. Other congregational rabbis in Wisconsin have posted videos and issued statements to their congregations, expressing horror over George Floyd’s death and calling for systemic change
All the major Jewish denominations in the United States issued statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, after Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Organized Judaism has supported the Black Lives Matter movement, despite a deep disagreement with some supporters on Israel.
“We are saddened, sickened, and outraged to have seen another broadcast video of an African-American man dying at the hands of police officers,” reads a statement issued by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, issued after Floyd’s death. “As religious Jews, we believe the most important starting point for the national discourse that must take place is the recognition that all people are created in the image of G-d and that each human life is of infinite value. Indeed, the United States of America was founded upon this principle and, at its best, persistently strives to make it manifest in America’s laws and policies.”
The Jewish Press has seen controversy before. Last year, its editor was accused of denigrating minority groups on Twitter. More recently, Editor Elliot Resnick, who describes himself as a “proud conservative,” tweeted on June 4: “Let’s never forget that the real (big picture) criminals here are the teachers, professors, and journalists who teach young Americans vicious lies about this country and the police.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Milwaukee Jewish Federation issued a statement expressing outrage over Rapkin’s actions. It also condemned The Jewish Press for producing a “dog-whistle-filled article” that “does not reflect the larger Jewish community.”