At the Chicago Tribune, "Trump supporter explains what led to 'Heil, Hitler' salute at canceled Chicago rally":
A 69-year-old Yorkville woman and her husband are defending her actions after a Tribune photo showed her giving a Nazi salute during an altercation with protesters outside UIC Pavilion Friday night following the ill-fated Donald Trump rally.Still more.
The photo of Trump supporter Birgitt Peterson went viral on social media this weekend, causing some to wonder about her motivation for making the gesture.
Peterson, who said she emigrated from West Berlin and has been a U.S. citizen since 1982, said the salute came during an argument with protesters and was simply her response to them giving her the Nazi gesture.
Her husband, Donald, insisted: "We're not skinheads, we're not Nazis."
Birgitt Peterson said she and her husband had left the UIC Pavilion after the rally was canceled because of security concerns. "I came out and lit a cigarette and all of a sudden, I was surrounded,'' she told the Tribune on Saturday.
She was wearing a Trump T-shirt, and a group of about 20 protesters began speaking to them, she said.
"The one lady, she said: 'Hey, white supremacist,'" Peterson said.
A woman grabbed the orange lanyard Peterson had around her neck that identified her as a member of the Illinois delegation to a past Republican convention, and then the woman let it go, she said.
Peterson said she told them: "Girlfriend, don't do this. If you want to talk, you have the right to be here to protest. I have the right to be here."
A protester told Peterson that she wanted the woman to "stay safe'' and urged Peterson and her husband to leave, she said. But they were cursing at them also, her husband added.
A young woman who had a shirt comparing Trump to Hitler accused the couple of voting for the Ku Klux Klan, Birgitt Peterson said, quoting the woman as saying, "Hitler is Donald Trump ... This is what you are. Why did you vote for this man?"
Peterson said she responded: "You should know that I haven't voted for anybody because the primary is not until Tuesday."
She said the protesters told her, "You are here to vote for Hitler," and they started giving a Nazi salute.
Peterson said she told the protesters she was German and asked them if they knew what the salute meant.
"So Birgitt decided to teach them to do it,'' said Donald Peterson, who insisted they were "not Nazis'' and absolutely not supporters or "saluting'' Adolf Hitler.
"I lifted my arms," she said, adding that in German she said, "Hail to the German Reich."
A protester who was photographed with Peterson, Michael Joseph Garza, told the Tribune on Saturday he did not believe Peterson was responding to anyone else when she raised her arm in the salute.
"I went up to her and said, 'Ma'am, please leave, we have understood you, we have made a (path),'" Garza recalled. "She said, 'Go? Back in my day, this is what we did,' basically, and then she hailed Hitler."
Jason Wambsgans, the Tribune photographer who took the picture, said he had more than a dozen photos of Peterson giving the Nazi salute but did not see any protesters doing the gesture and has no photos showing that...
I wish she hadn't made that salute, for whatever reason. This is the social media age. If you make yourself look like a Nazi, then you're going to be smeared as a Nazi. Simple as that.