A Jewish lawyer who has been practicing law in southern Maine since 1979 had his Portland office targeted this weekend with pro-Palestine graffiti.
“We have the American flag and then in the other window we have the Israeli flag hanging there, which we put up immediately following October 7, because we are a Jewish family and we wanted to show our alignment with Israel,” said Roberta Cope, the wife of attorney Steven Cope.
Cope, a bankruptcy attorney, has lived in Maine for his entire life.
On October 7, Islamic terrorists, operating under the banner of Gaza-based Hamas, launched a flurry of rockets into Israel and invaded nearby towns to murder, rape, and kidnap Jews.
Though the messages tagged on his Stevens Avenue office windows were about Palestine, Cope said he views the graffitied message as code language for those on the far left who support Hamas.
“I’m just expressing solidarity for Israel and others are expressing in code words that would, if expanded thoroughly, would suggest that my right to live should be forfeit,” said Cope.
“It’s just a couple of words, Free Palestine, but it’s code, and as code it means a lot more and it resonates in a way that has been just proliferating in various media, and it’s dangerous,” said Cope. “And what happened to me is relatively benign, but it could have been a lot worse and it could be a lot worse to others, whether it be at a synagogue, at the temple, any public gathering.”
Cope and his wife called the police to investigate. An officer from the Portland Police Department showed up and interviewed them and other shop owners, they said. The officer wasn’t able to find any other businesses that had been targeted with anti-semitic graffiti.
Pro-Palestine demonstrations have occurred in many American cities and at many American universities following the brutal terrorism campaign waged by Hamas terrorists against Israel.
Though there has been much debate about the distinction between “pro-Palestinian” messages versus “pro-Hamas” or “anti-Israel” messages, the demonstration held in Portland on Oct. 11 by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) was unambiguous.
“The actions of the resistance over the course of the last day is a morally and legally legitimate response to the occupation,” said organizer Zachary Campbell, referring to the Hamas offensive that killed over 1,300 Israelis.
Campbell, who is a teacher at a public school in Maine, followed his justification of the terrorist attacks with chants of “When Palestine is occupied, resistance is justified,” and “Netanyahu you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden were among the only Maine politicians to denounce the pro-Hamas rally in Maine’s largest city.
After the rally, the Maine Wire contacted the following Portland officials for comment: Mayor Kate Snyder, Councilor Pious Ali, Councilor April Fournier, Councilor Roberto Rodriguez, Councilor Anna Trevorrow, Councilor Victoria Pelletier, Councilor Regina Phillips, Councilor Andrew Zarro, Councilor Mark Dion, and Portland communications director Jessica Grondin.
None of them responded.
Former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, a DSA member who has regularly attended meetings with the DSA members who organized the rally, refused to acknowledge or condemn the pro-Hamas messages.
Cope said he was not surprised that Portland officials have kept quiet about political activists rallying for Hamas in front of City Hall, saying it’s not “politically expedient” for politicians in the city to condemn anti-Israel terrorism.
“That’s not in vogue,” he said. “The approach that was taken by [DSA] is sort of in vogue today.”
“It is reprehensible to not be able to acknowledge the seriousness of the horrific acts of terrorism as a justification for social change,” he said.