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Politics & Policy

State Sen. Wiener Urges Adidas to Drop Ye Over Antisemitism

Written by Olivia Cruz MayedaPublished Oct. 24, 2022 • 4:00pm
Kanye West speaks on stage at the "Kanye West and Steven Smith in Conversation with Mark Wilson" on November 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company)

Update: Adidas announced Tuesday that it had ended its long-running partnership with Kanye West after the backlash over his antisemitic remarks. The company said it was halting production of all Yeezy-branded products and had stopped payments to the artist.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, joined the droves of people who have condemned Ye—formerly known as Kanye West—for his recent antisemitic comments and demanded that his business partners hold the artist accountable. 

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and Anti-Defamation League Regional Deputy Director Teresa Drenick joined Wiener in a press conference Tuesday to urge Adidas and other companies affiliated with Ye to sever all business ties with the artist.

“Adidas and any other company needs to end their commercial relationship with Kanye West,” Wiener said. “Anyone who continues to do business with him is a party to his antisemitism and a party to his calls for violence against us.”

Instagram and Facebook temporarily restricted Ye’s account after he posted multiple antisemitic messages. On Friday, the artist suggested on Instagram that fellow rapper Diddy is controlled by Jewish people. On Saturday, Ye tweeted that he would “Go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

Wiener noted that Adidas has a “special responsibility” to sever ties with the artist since the company’s founder, Adolf Dassler, was a member of the Nazi Party

Adidas, the producer of Ye’s popular Yeezy shoe line, said that it is reviewing its partnership with the artist. Ye had a partnership with Balenciaga that the fashion designer ended on Friday and another partnership with The Gap that ended in September, while Ye’s talent agency of nearly six years parted ways with him in October.

Gabriel also acknowledged Ye’s struggle with bipolar disorder. “At least some folks understand that Kanye has a mental health problem,” he said. “That cannot be an excuse for antisemitism or hate or incitement to violence of any form against anybody.”

Wiener and Gabriel, who are leaders of the Jewish Caucus, both expressed concern that Ye’s words have encouraged others, including his over 30 million Twitter followers, to harm Jewish people.

“We know that words can precipitate action,” Gabriel said. “And that's not just true in the Jewish experience. We saw that, for example, with hate and violence directed against our [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community.”

On Saturday, a hate group gathered and displayed the banner “Kanye is right about Jews” over a busy freeway in Los Angeles.

“Kanye West said he wanted to start killing Jews, and we see people doing that and trying to amplify what he was saying,” Wiener said.

Adidas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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