Published March 2, 2021 at 5:24 PM EST
Local religious and community leaders gathered Tuesday at St. Thomas University denouncing anti-Semitic sentiment and upholding the rights to religious freedom.
The university honored alumnus Anthony Barroso, who recently made local news when he took action against anti-Semitic graffiti painted on a fence in his neighborhood.
Barroso saw the white paint spelling out, “Beware the Jews” when he was driving to work. He was on the phone with his girlfriend, whose father is Jewish, and decided he would report it to the police.
“Seeing that really bothered me. Going through the day it just kept bothering me and bothering me, so I just felt like we should do something about it,” he said.
The graffiti was still up after he got off work, so Barroso went to the hardware store and bought supplies to paint over it himself.
His story made the local news, prompting the Catholic university to hold an event denouncing anti-Semitism and affirming its support of religious liberties.
“If we allow that type of action against any religion, we are putting our religion at risk. People of faith, we are all in this together,” said university president David A. Armstrong.
Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris, who attended the event, said “hate and bigotry cannot be tolerated…we must heed [Barroso’s] example and fight against bigotry and hatred. Religious freedom is important … all should feel safe and comfortable to believe in what we choose to believe.”
Barroso was given a special plaque for his efforts outside of the school’s Chapel of St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things.