A storeowner in Los Angeles is making headlines after dressing a display mannequin in the prisoner uniform gays wore during the Holocaust to protest the Russian anti-gay propaganda law.
On February 3, Nir Ziberman dressed a mannequin in a concentration camp-styled outfit and put it on display in his storefront window. The uniform was striped and adorned with an inverted pink triangle—the symbol used by Nazis to identify gay people.
Ziberman is the owner of LA Jock, a sportswear store in LA’s West Hollywood (WeHo) neighborhood. The profile photo for the store’s Facebook page has been changed into one of a slim-faced, campy version of President Putin, with spider lashes and razor-sharp cheekbones. The image is decorated with a crossed out swastika and an inverted pink triangle. The photo reads: “Sochi: Winter of Hate.”
Meanwhile, the display mannequin at LA Jock holds a sign which equates Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s. Underneath the drawings of Putin and the photos of gay rights rallies in Russia, the mannequin’s sign states: “Love. No More Hate. Give Hope.”
“When I look at the images of what’s happening to the Russian men, it actually reminds me of how the Holocaust started,” said Ziberman.
While homosexuality is technically still legal in Russia, President Putin approved a law in June 2013 which banned even the mention of homosexuality to minors. Following the passage of the law, attacks on the LGBT community have increased; some attacks have been by a self-proclaimed “vigilante group” calling themselves “Occupy Pedophilia.”
The group is led by former skinhead Maxim Martsinkevich, who is part of the far-right Neo-Nazi extremist group Format 18. Martsinkevich previously served three and a half years in prison for inciting ethnic hate, according to Spectrum Human Rights.
“I’m not ashamed of what I did,” said Ziberman, referring to people who were offended by the mannequin display. “I learned in life, you need to do what you need to do to wake up society.”
Ziberman is the son of two Holocaust survivors.