Residents of Montgomery County have reported being disturbed by the appearance of fliers with antisemitic or white supremacist imagery or messages. So far, these fliers have been found in Silver Spring’s Kemp Mill neighborhood, Chevy Chase and Garrett Park, said Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
“Some of it is antisemitic, some of it is racist, and a lot of it is white supremacist in origin,” said Halber, a resident of Germantown and member of Temple Beth Ami. “The one in Kemp Mill was directed at the Jewish community. The others were just bigoted in general, not just Jewish but could be seen as targeting other groups, as well.”
On June 2, local police were notified of the appearance of three posters near a bus stop on Arcola, said Nick Augustine, district commander for the 4th district police of Wheaton-Glenmont during a June 13 virtual event organized by Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim in response to the fliers found in Kemp Mill. He added that another poster was found at Kemp Mill Park, and one more on an icebox at a grocery store.
“One of them has in very big, bold letters … ‘six million kikes,’” said Ira Ungar, a community liaison for Deputy Speaker Bonnie L. Cullison (D-19) of the Maryland House of Delegates, regarding one of the Kemp Mill fliers. “The six million refers to the number of Jews killed by Nazis in the Holocaust. And then underneath that is someone in a uniform with a German cross on that, and then saying, ‘Is that a challenge? We wish!’”
“All that spells, ‘We want to kill six million kikes.’ That’s what it says to me,” said Ungar, a resident of Silver Spring’s Kemp Mill neighborhood and member of Kemp Mill Synagogue and Young Israel Shomrai Emunah of Greater Washington.
Website addresses listed on the posters were affiliated with national organizations, Augustine continued, one located in Denver, the other in Texas.
Police took a report on the flyers, canvassed the neighborhood and searched for video cameras that might have recorded anything, Augustine continued. So far, police have not found any video covering the bus stop area.
That afternoon, Augustine added, he went to the Silver Spring Jewish Center to speak with staff and do a walkthrough and security survey of their building. He also spoke with staff of Yeshiva of Greater Washington.
The police’s “central business district team” and its patrol officers began patrolling the area to increase visibility, Augustine added, saying that “we have not had another reported bias related incident since this one on June 2.”
Ungar’s perception of the situation appeared to differ from that of the local police.
“That’s a call for murdering Jews,” said Ungar. “That’s not how the police understood it. They said it was not a direct threat to a specific victim, and so they did not identify it as a hate crime. But a lot of people, including myself, find that very offensive.”
“Some of the police have been responsive, have gotten back to us right away, and, you know, I don’t know yet what their full response has been,” Ungar continued. “So I really can’t say whether I’m satisfied or unsatisfied.”
Joel Rubin, vice mayor of Chevy Chase, said he first became aware of fliers in his community on June 11. The flier, he continued, claimed to be from the Loyal White Knights, which he identified as a component group of the Ku Klux Klan.
A copy of the flier provided by Rubin encouraged readers, mostly in all caps, to “pray for white Americans,” defend the “constitutional republic” and “protect SCOTUS justices from communists.” The flier added that “legal protests are great, attempted murder isn’t,” and “don’t Red China America.”
Rubin speculated that the reference to the Supreme Court could be related to the arrest of an individual accused of attempting to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He added that the fliers seemed to be left around the neighborhood randomly.
“So to me, this is a very clear example of the broadening and deepening of direct, offensive attacks by white supremacists,” said Rubin, the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress and the former Jewish outreach director of the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign. “A sense of empowerment that they have currently in this country.”
During Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim’s virtual event, Natalie Cantor, the acting president, viewed the incidents as a reminder of the need for vigilance.
“We kind of lull ourselves,” said Cantor. “We live in a wonderful country and we think we don’t have to deal with this sort of thing. But sadly, we do.”