TAMPA — For three consecutive weekends, Tampa Bay area residents discovered antisemitic flyers left outside their homes.
The flyers were found in bags of rice near porches and driveways this last weekend, the previous weekend and on Saturday, June 4, the Tampa Police Department confirmed in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. The flyers found June 4 were in Hyde Park, police say, then the following weekend in Beach Park. The most recent batch was left at homes on Davis Islands.
The person or group responsible for distributing the flyers remains unknown, although similar flyers have been found in other cities in Florida and across the country.
On June 16, two days prior to the third round of flyers, Tampa City Council raised the issue during a regular meeting. The council requested a report on “how to reduce the anti-Semitic attacks and communications that residents are receiving,” to be completed by July 28.
Jonathan Ellis of the Jewish Community Relations Council confirmed that the symbol printed on the flyers in Tampa is identical to that found on flyers in different states.
“It doesn’t mean it’s the same people, but we believe it’s the same group,” he said. “And that group could be a loose affiliation of people that are just doing this on their own,” he said.
The hate group is looking for publicity and traffic on their website, Ellis said, and the community and media can disrupt that by omitting the group’s name when referring to the incidents.
The Florida Holocaust Museum issued statements in response to both incidents, condemning the flyers for spreading an “ancient antisemitism” that revolves around alleged Jewish conspiracies or agendas.
Jewish community leaders say it’s important to speak out against the hate the flyers spread, but it’s best not to draw unnecessary attention to their messaging. Mike Igel, chairman of the Florida Holocaust Museum, said the focus should be on community.
“These types of tropes have been around for thousands of years,” he said. “What’s important about this certainly isn’t those materials; it’s the noise we make in response. The community needs to come together to make more noise than they make.”
Ellis echoed these sentiments. “What we don’t want to do is have a larger reaction to this than is necessary, because coverage of this is what spreads it,” he said.
Igel stressed the importance of a unified response from the Tampa community. “This should bother everyone,” he said. “This isn’t just a Jewish problem.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information about the latest batch of flyers found on Davis Islands and action by the City Council.