PALO ALTO, Calif. - Several Bay Area cities are the targets of a renewed campaign of hate. This, after anti-Semitic flyers were distributed in some neighborhoods in Palo Alto.
Palo Alto police investigators said this latest incident is similar – if not identical to others around the state and country.
"This is driven by a hatred of Jews. And it’s an opportunity to use COVID to blame Jews or COVID," said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
Investigators, Sunday, said dozens of flyers were found in zip-lock bags weighted down with rice. The messages of hate were placed in several Palo Alto neighborhoods, including Barron Park.
"It was very surprising to learn about that. That people can still think that way, like centuries ago," said Barron Park resident Yuri Kanuer. "Why do they wanna blame someone for something that is happening in the world?"
The anti-Semitic propaganda falsely blamed Jews for the national response to the COVID pandemic. And, named more than a dozen people it claimed control or influence COVID policy.
"It’s typical behavior for this group who are fringe extremists who are trying to project their hate-filled messaging. And try to give an air that they are larger and more widespread than they actually are," said Seth Brysk, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League.
In January, flyers espousing the same hatred were left in San Francisco, Pasadena, and Miami.
In Palo Alto, two years ago, vandals spray-painted racist messages on the University AME Zion Church, the oldest African-American house of worship in the city.
"…They desecrated this place for what it was supposed to be and that’s for worship," Rev. Kaloma Smith said Jan. 2, 2020.
Rev. Smith wrote a report detailing nine additional incidents since the 2020 crime, as proof things have worsened.
The ant-Semitic messages, delivered in Ziploc bags were also found on doorsteps in a North Berkeley hills neighborhood on Sunday, according to police.
"Delivered randomly along streets, this action is the result of a small, fringe White Supremacist extremist group that targets Jewish communities as well as other minority groups throughout the Bay Area," a Berkeley police statement read.
Again, the message was to blame Jews for COVID. The police department along with Berkeley City Council condemned the hate speech and police are investigating this case.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin on Tuesday issued a statement.
"From social media to the former President, those that promote hate have been emboldened by racism reemerging in such a prominent, tangible, and visible fashion," the mayor said.
"For several years this enablement stemmed from leaders failing to lead by example, and many officials were either apathetic or saw political opportunity through the surge of division and hate. From antisemitism to incidents targeting minority communities, a crime against one of us is a crime against all of us, and Berkeley will never tolerate hate in any form whatsoever," Arreguin continued.
The mayor noted that Berkeley is the birthplace of United Against Hate, an international movement against hate and racism. The movement, founded in 2017, became popular after the Unite the Right, far-right incident in Charlottesville.
Berkeley City Council is set to vote Tuesday on a resolution to condemn the anti-Semitic hate incidents.
Rosen said a two-pronged approach to combat growing incidents of hate is needed.
"One of the answers to this is prosecution," he said. "We wanna hold folks accountable for doing this. It’s disgusting. It’s despicable. And then we also want to try to change them and help them grow, so they don’t do this anymore."
Investigators believe the same person, or group of people, is responsible for these acts. They ask anyone with information to contact the Palo Alto Police Department, or the ADL.