Billy Joel says he wore Holocaust symbol to protest Trump’s remarks after Charlottesville riots

August 8, 2018 GMT

Billy Joel wore a Star of David on his jacket during a concert last August in response to President Trump’s reaction to the deadly “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, the singer-songwriter said in a recent interview.

“To me, what happened in Charlottesville was like war. When Trump said there were good people on both sides there are no good Nazis. There are no good Ku Klux Klan people. Don’t equivocate that [expletive],” Mr. Joel, 69, said in an interview published Monday by Vulture

“I think about my old man: Most of his family was murdered in Auschwitz. He was able to get out but then got drafted and went in the U.S. Army. He risked his life in Europe to defeat Nazism. A lot of men from his generation did the same thing. So when those guys see punks walking around with swastikas, how do they keep from taking a baseball bat and bashing those crypto-Nazis over the head?” said the six-time Grammy Award winner.


Billed as a rally held in support of a Confederate statue, “Unite the Right” descended into violence after clashes erupted on the morning of the event between counterprotesters and participants, including neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white nationalists, ultimately culminating in the deaths of three people, according to police.

Addressing the violence days later, Mr. Trump said he believed “both sides” were to blame.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now,” Mr. Trump said afterwards.

Mr. Joel told Vulture that he was “personally offended” afterwards and decided to wear a yellow Star of David, like the kind forced on Jews during the Holocaust, while performing the following week.

“Those creeps are going to march through the streets of my country? Uh-uh,” Mr. Joel told Vulture. “That’s why I wore that yellow star. I had to do something, and I didn’t think speaking about it was going to be as impactful.”

Three people died in connection with “Unite the Right,” according to police, including a counterprotester killed in an alleged automobile attack and two state troopers who died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the chaos.

Jason Kessler, a local white nationalist activist who organized the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally, formally withdrew his plans to hold another demonstration on the event’s anniversary during an appearance in Charlottesville federal court Tuesday, local media reported.

Mr. Kessler, 34, previously said he planned to hold a rally on the event’s anniversary either in Charlottesville or Washington, D.C., and he sued the Virginia city when his request for a permit was rejected.