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Anti-Defamation League, 'Pepe' artist join up to save 'sad frog'

Creator Matt Furie to design positive 'Pepe' images that will be promoted by the ADL to combat the sad frog's appropriation by haters.

Last month, the ADL added Pepe to its database of online hate symbols.
ullstein bild via Getty Images

Pepe the Frog hates hate.

Cartoonist Matt Furie and the Anti-Defamation League are trying to reclaim the caricature, which has been appropriated by white supremacists and anti-Semites on the internet.

Furie will design a set of Pepe memes and messages designed to discourage online hatred. The ADL will promote those works on its social media channels with the hashtag #SavePepe, and encourage other people to retweet them.

"Pepe was never intended to be used as a symbol of hate," Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, said in a release. "We are going to work with Matt and his community of artists reclaim Pepe."

The ADL said Furie reached out after Pepe's image was used in hateful internet memes and on social media. Many of the memes portrayed Pepe, also referred to as "the sad frog," in yarmulkes, Ku Klux Klan hood and Nazi regalia.

Last month, the ADL added Pepe to its database of online hate symbols, which includes the swastika. It also includes the echo symbol, a name inserted into triple parentheses to single out Jews on Twitter and other social-media sites.

"It's completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate, and that racists and anti-Semites are using a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book as an icon of hate," Furie said in an interview with Time that was quoted in the ADL release. "The only thing I can do is see this as an opportunity to speak out against hate.