Dozens of flyers containing antisemitic conspiracy theories that the coronavirus pandemic was started by the Jewish community were scattered in areas of California and North Carolina over the weekend, according to police.
The flyers were distributed across Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as in Pasadena and Beverley Hills, California, late Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
Residents of the areas woke to find the antisemitic messages placed in plastic bags and weighed down with pebbles, as well as delivered with their morning newspapers. In each state, the perpetrators targeted both Jewish and non-Jewish homes.
Police in Pasadena and Beverly Hills are investigating after at least 200 of the flyers were scattered in their cities between roughly midnight and 4 a.m., TV station KTLA reported. The flyers began with the statement that “every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish” and proceeded to list a number of antisemitic theories linked to the pandemic.
“The distribution of [antisemitic] fliers in Pasadena and other Southern California communities over the weekend is abhorrent and totally goes against the values of our city and its residents,” Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo said in a statement, according to KTLA.
“Our thoughts are with our residents and all those hurt by these disgusting acts. We know Pasadena residents—of all faiths—will to stand together and speak out against hatred in all forms,” the mayor said.
In Greensboro, police are investigating after flyers were found mostly in the Cornwallis Drive area, according to TV station WGHP. The station chose to not disclose the full contents of the flyers in an effort “to avoid further spreading prejudicial and harmful claims.”
Greensboro Jewish community leaders with the Temple Emanuel, Beth David Synagogue and Greensboro Jewish Federation released a statement on Sunday condemning the flyers.
“This morning a number of members of the local Jewish community, and others, received a vile piece of antisemitic hatred, delivered with their newspaper. It seeks to spread antisemitic, blatantly false, and evil conspiracies about the Covid-19 virus and our nation’s efforts to combat its spread,” the statement said, according to WGHP.
“We are not the first community in which this has happened. Our hearts go out to all those who have received this disgraceful propaganda. Hatred has no place in our community,” the statement added.
The incident this weekend comes after similar flyers were found in Beverly Hills last month before the first day of Hanukkah. Police called that situation a “hate incident” and said the flyers contained “propaganda-style hate speech related to the COVID pandemic and the Jewish people,” according to CNN.
A survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee in October found that 1 in 4 Jewish Americans was the victim of an antisemitic incident in the past year. Similarly, the American Defamation League found that antisemitic incidents across the globe have risen during the pandemic, with “virus-related conspiracy theories proliferating online.”
Those with information regarding the antisemitic flyers in California or North Carolina are asked to call their local police stations.