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‘Goyim Defense League’ (GDL) Strikes South Carolina Homes with Anti-Jewish Leaflets

UPDATE March 12, 2024: Jamin Christian Fite, 48, has been charged in relation to the flyers and faces seven counts of communicating obscene messages and seven counts of littering; more here.

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Some residents here woke to find antisemitic flyers dropped in their driveways.

A Sheriff’s Office spokesperson confirmed that the sheriff’s office had received multiple reports March 5 that the flyers were distributed in West Florence, in both the city and county.

The flyers were dropped in plastic bags that also included corn kernels, apparently to weigh down the bags to make them easier to toss from the road, presumably from a moving vehicle.

Multiple versions of flyers all espoused anti-Jewish rhetoric. The flyers also contained links to a video-sharing website where people stream racist content, including antisemitism and white supremacy.

The flyers appear to be provided by the Goyim Defense League, an antisemitic and neo-Nazi organization. The group encourages people to download flyers from a website it operates. 

The Jewish advocacy group StopAntisemitism has been tracking the activities of those responsible – the Goyim Defense League’ or ‘GDL’ for over five years and state they vilify Jews with their premeditated hate campaigns.

Ron Soto found a flyer lying in front of his home on Evergreene Road.

He and his wife said they were shocked to find it on their driveway. They also said they were disgusted.

“It’s not something that I thought would have happened here. I thought everybody was accepting here, not racist,” Soto said.

Maj. Michael Nunn said the sheriff’s office is limited in what it can do because of the First Amendment right to free speech. The sheriff’s office will investigate if it determines a crime has been committed, but as of right now, the sheriff’s office sees this as political speech.

“If there is a criminal offense, they should contact law enforcement, but based on what we’ve returned so far, it does not appear to be criminal in nature,” Nunn said.

The Florence Police Department did not immediately have a comment.

The activity comes amid a nationwide rise in hate crimes, with antisemitism becoming more pronounced in the wake of the latest war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Florence joins a list of other South Carolina cities that have seen antisemitic activity in the past several months alone.

Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Mount Pleasant each saw plastic bags filled with antisemitic material dropped in neighborhoods in the final months of 2023. 

Conway made headlines when a White couple burned a cross in their yard directed toward their Black neighbors. 

Some cities — including Florence — have proposed hate crime ordinances as laws at the state level languish.

South Carolina and Wyoming are the only two states in the country without a hate crime law.

In February, Florence leaders offered full-throated support for laws to combat hate crimes, approving a resolution calling for the Statehouse to pass a state law and taking the first step toward adopting a local ordinance that would enhance existing laws.

If City Council passes the ordinance in March, it will create enhanced penalties. Someone who violates a city ordinance with the intent to intimidate someone on the basis of their identity could also be charged with “hate intimidation.”

For example, City Attorney Ben Zeigler said at the time, someone who threw out racist flyers on a Florence street would be charged with littering and could also be charged with hate intimidation.

Protected identities include race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, or national origin. 

Councilwoman LaShonda NeSmith-Jackson, whose district borders the area in which the flyers were distributed, said the activity is more proof the city needs to pursue its ordinance.

“In my opinion, there’s no room in the city of Florence for that kind of stuff,” NeSmith-Jackson said.