BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Residents in at least two beachside communities awoke Monday to find front yards and driveways littered with anti-Semitic fliers in what authorities say may have been a coordinated effort in several Florida locations, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
“We’ve had a few that have been picked up and we’ve had some people who brought them in,” said Melbourne Beach Police Chief Melanie Griswold. “It’s disturbing. There were about 190 distributed in Melbourne Beach overnight but it all started coming in this morning. Our officers didn’t see anything, but if we did, we would have stopped them for littering.”
Hundreds of similar fliers, steeped in conspiracies related to COVID-19, also were distributed in South Florida, including Miami and Surfside, prompting police to step up patrols in the affected neighborhoods, according to media reports. Several synagogues were alerted.
The fliers found in Melbourne Beach and Indialantic were sealed in plastic baggies weighted with rocks, Griswold said.
Similar right-wing extremist propaganda tracts with anti-Semitic overtones have been distributed in Brevard County over the years.
The Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights advocacy group that has tracked 75 incidents of antisemitism in Brevard from 2016 to 2021, reported similar fliers were found across the Space Coast at least a dozen times over the years from Mims to Malabar.
The latest distribution comes after witnesses said nine people placed anti-Semitic signs along the Interstate 95 overpass in Port St. John on Dec. 20. No arrests were made.
Monday’s distribution also comes nearly two weeks after an armed gunman stormed a Texas synagogue and held four worshippers hostage before they escaped. The gunman, whom the FBI said espoused an anti-Semitic worldview, died as federal agents closed in.
Jewish leaders worldwide have repeatedly raised concerns about growing anti-Semitic activity.
Indialantic Mayor Dave Berkman, who is Jewish, said he began getting calls about the fliers early Monday, with residents finding the fliers in driveways along Hibiscus Trail and Riverside Drive.
“I had a friend who was out for a walk and he saw (the fliers) all over. At this point, it is freedom of speech, but it keeps happening. It’s very disturbing,” he said.
Florida State Rep. Randy Fine, who also is Jewish, said he is monitoring the situation after posting pictures of one of the fliers retrieved early Monday.
“I think it’s a sad state of affairs when we have these kinds of losers doing things like this in our communities,” Fine said. “But being an anti-Semitic loser is not against the law. It’s always a concern. It’s the oldest form of hate and we should be acknowledging it and calling it out.”