Residents of Palm Coast’s C-Section on Monday and several in Ormond Beach were the apparently random targets of dozens of anti-Semitic fliers dropped in driveways, in ziplocked bags leaden with rice. (See one flyer here.)
The fliers claim that “Every single aspect of the Biden administration is Jewish” or ‘Every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish,’” and are also headlined with “Let’s Go Brandon,” a euphemism of the hard-right intended as a slur against President Biden that even GOP leaders such as Gov. Ron DeSansis have tacitly endorsed.
Compounding the fliers’ falsehoods, they typically state: “these flyers were distributed randomly without malicious intent.” Anti-Semitism is by definition malicious. It constituted 9 percent of all hate crimes in 2020 (down from 13 percent the prior year), though Jews are the target of 58 percent of all hate crimes motivated by religion, according to the FBI: nationwide, there were 683 anti-Jewish incidents in 2020, compared to 110 anti-Muslim incidents.
“While anti-Semitism is ongoing for many centuries, the statement at the top of these flyers ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ makes them unique in that they can be attached to a partisan political party active in our area,” Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, a member of the national board of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and of FlaglerLive’s board, said today. The Sheriff’s Office is not taking action, since the acts are not criminal. “There is, however, wide-spread recognition that in 1933 most Germans thought of Hitler and his Nazi Party as a bunch of crackpots who would never amount to anything. Thus, we have learned that these things will not go away by ignoring them,” Shapiro said.
The fliers have been appearing at least since December in neighborhoods in Surfside, Miami, San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, Kenosha, Wis., Cartersville, Ga., towns in Texas, and California, according to press reports and a tally by the Anti-Defamation league.
In Palm Coast, the fliers were dropped on Coral Reef Court and numerous driveways on Columbus Court, according to a Flagler County Sheriff’s report. “I located and disposed of approximately 50 of these pamphlets from Coral Reef Court and a majority of its side streets,” a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy reported.
In each case the fliers were in sandwich bags with some rice, to keep them from drifting, and suggesting that the bags were thrown from a driving car. As in other cases, the flier directed readers to go to an anti-Semitic website that amplifies disinformation, falsehoods, Neo-Nazi messages and like-minded slurs.
Deputies have been attempting to locate surveillance camera footage that might capture the passing car or cars that dropped the leaflets. One resident had a “showing a vehicle driving northbound on Columbus and throwing an item onto his driveway at 0201 hours,” meaning just after 2 a.m. on Tuesday. “The angle of the camera does not record much of the road, light from headlights and wheels are the only thing visible of the vehicle.” Another “recorded video of a dark color vehicle that had silver on the bottom.” Yet another, on a cul-de-sac, “recorded in infrared and showed a dark-colored vehicle throwing an item in their driveway at 0200 hours. The vehicle’s tag was unreadable.”
A vehicle with the approximate matching description was located through the sheriff’s Real Time Crime Center, getting off I-95 southbound at 1:43 a.m., but the tag was not readable, and the vehicle was not located again. Sheriff’s officials believe the vehicle may be a Jeep Patriot. “Information was sent to Volusia and St. John’s counties to see if they had any similar incidents that night and were able to get a tag.”
There were additional incidents Tuesday in Ormond Beach. An Ormond Beach resident described the fliers dropped at her driveway as “extremely biased content with Satan Symbols and reference of ‘synagogue of Satan.'” She sent the flier to the ADL for documentation.
“We are aware of GDL and its activity this past weekend,” the ADL informed the resident. “Unfortunately, while the flyer is despicable, antisemitic, and the activity creates fear in the community, it is not a criminal act and therefore not a hate crime. It is an antisemitic incident and we will add it to our audit of antisemitic incidents. They are very careful to keep to protected freedom of speech activity, and it is our hope they will make a mistake so that law enforcement can take action. We also do not have any information of a direct threat to the Jewish community.”
The Ormond Beach incidents were documented in the area of Riverside Drive, according to an Ormond Beach Police report. A resident told police that “he was out walking his dog when he noticed a silver Jaguar convertible with a loud exhaust driven by a black male, black female passenger on Riverside Drive. [The resident] said the driver kept stopping the vehicle and revving the engine, reversing and then going forward again. [The resident] thought this was odd behavior seeing that part of the road is one way and he did not see them actually park or pull into someone’s driveway as if they were looking for a specific address.” The resident “strongly believes that the subjects in the silver Jaguar are responsible for the unwanted printed material found.” But the resident “did not say he actually saw these persons throw the material from the vehicle, he just noted that their behavior was odd.”
A couple out walking their dog noticed the plastic bags in people’s driveways as well and commented about the silver Jaguar almost running them over, according to the report. “They did not see anything being thrown from the vehicle either however they stated the male driver was driving carelessly on the one way street.” Moments later, the officer was approached by one more resident reporting the anti-Semitic material.
“At this time, it is unknown if the materials were randomly distributed due to two of the residents that I contacted are/or have Jewish backgrounds,” the officer reported. “It is also unknown at this time if the subjects seen in the silver Jaguar were indeed the subject distributing the unwanted material.”
Ormond Beach was the site of a criminal anti-Semitic incident in November, when anti-Semitic stickers were found on city property in the Nova Community Park area. Several more anti-Semitic stickers and spray-painted stencils were found throughout the city. Daniel Howard McGinnis, a 34-year-old white male, admitted to causing the racist vandalism, and implicated his friend, Jeremy Todd Imbler, a white male of the same age, according to Ormond Beach police. Both were charged with felony vandalism.
To report anti-Semitic bias or discriminatory incidents, go to the ADL’s form here. In addition, report all incidents to your local law enforcement agency.