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Senate candidate Herschel Walker cancels fundraiser after organizer uses swastika made of syringes in profile

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Walker’s campaign initially defended the swastika, arguing that it was “clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic.”

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Republican Herschel Walker, a former Heisman trophy winner and MMA fighter now running for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, was forced to cancel a fundraiser on Wednesday after its organizer used an image of a swastika made out of syringes on her Twitter profile.

The fundraiser was scheduled to take place in Parker, Tex., and was hosted by Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais, a Republican donor and Texas filmmaker who also hosted a mask-burning bonfire last year. Her Twitter profile picture displayed four syringes arranged in the shape of a swastika, a symbol that has been co-opted by anti-vaccine activists in an attempt to compare COVID-19 vaccine mandates to Nazi treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

While the event was eventually canceled following a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Walker’s campaign initially defended Viviano-Langlais’ profile picture, , arguing that it was “clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic.”

“Herschel unequivocally opposes anti-semitism and bigotry of all kinds,” a spokeswoman for Walker’s campaign told the Journal-Constitution.

Later that day, however, the spokeswoman revealed that Walker would no longer be attending the event and emphasized his support for the Jewish community.

“Herschel is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community and opposes hatred and bigotry of all forms,” Walker spokeswoman Mallory Blount told The Washington Post. “Despite the fact that the apparent intent behind the graphic was to condemn government vaccine mandates, the symbol used is very offensive and does not reflect the values of Herschel Walker or his campaign.”

Walker, who is endorsed by former U.S. President Donald Trump, is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this year, the NFL legend joined the board of directors of a foundation operated by pro-Trump attorney turned QAnon celebrity Lin Wood, underscoring the NFL legend’s affiliation with the far-right conspiracy movement.

Wood, who first gained notoriety when he represented Richard Jewell, a security guard falsely accused of planting the bomb in Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, has since reinvented himself as a Trump advocate. Along with fellow attorney Sidney Powell, Wood filed lawsuits seeking to undo the 2020 presidential election results in several swing states, which made him a celebrity in the far-right QAnon conspiracy movement.