ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Plastic baggies containing candy canes and antisemitic flyers were left at the end of several driveways in an Irondequoit neighborhood Sunday, officials with the Town of Irondequoit confirmed.
The radical flyers inside the clear sandwich bags blame prominent Jewish individuals for a variety of perceived social issues. These include allegedly “eliminating religion, replacing it with science and materialism,” “controlling the education system to spread deception,” encouraging gun control, and more.
Meredith Dragon, CEO of the JFGR, said that the federation is familiar with the national organization behind the stunt, although this is their first known appearance in Rochester.
“These are adults with a plan and a coordinated effort and a desire to increase antisemitism, and really eventually cause violence to the Jewish community,” Dragon said.
The Irondequoit Police Department (IPD) has been in contact with the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester (JFGR), and is is currently investigating the incident, JFGR Director of Community Security Mark Henderson said. Officers went through the area early Sunday morning, cleaning up the flyers.
The flyers depict photographs of prominent Jewish people, with a Star of David photoshopped on the image, and a description of the individual’s alleged moral wrongdoing. In one flyer on gun control, the photoshopped Star of David appeared on each individual’s forehead, acting as a target.
“They use conspiracy theories to create fear, distrust, and to discredit the Jewish community so they can garner support for antisemitism,” Dragon said. “They’re pointing out what’s ‘evil’ and they’re blaming Jews for it.”
At the bottom of each handout, readers are encouraged to learn more at the organization’s website, a YouTube-esque platform with countless hours of virulently antisemitic videos, songs, blogger content, and livestreams.
“This is an unfortunate incident that the Town as well as our Police Department takes very seriously,” Irondequoit Town Supervisor Rory Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “This is very disturbing. Irondequoit is proud of the diverse makeup of our Town. We welcome people from all walks of life and value their voices.”
Dragon said that the group is known for starting with handouts, and escalating to an in-person presence in an area. The JFGR encouraged community members to not engage with members of the group — call the police instead.
“The IPD believes in the equality of all persons and rejects any agenda that disparages anyone,” acting IPD Chief Mark Jesske stated in part.
Anyone with information related to the incident is encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 911 and ask for an on-duty supervisor.
To learn more about antisemitism and how to fight it in your community, visit the JFGR’s Levine Center to End Hate.
Full Statement from acting Irondequoit Police Chief
The Irondequoit Police Department has been made aware of concerning materials that were distributed in the Laurelton area of town. A report has been generated and we are currently investigating who specifically distributed these flyers and what their intent was in doing so. The Irondequoit Police Department believes in the equality of all persons and rejects any agenda that disparages anyone based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, veteran status, or any other factor that makes us all individually who we are. Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to call 911 and ask for an on-duty IPD supervisor or email the department at email@example.com.