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‘Goyim Defense League’ (GDL) Harasses Illinois Suburb with Anti-Jewish Flyers

Flyers with antisemitic slogans were left in the neighborhood, home to one of the city’s largest Jewish populations. The incident mirrors other cases of hateful flyers left near North Side homes.

Residents of a West Ridge side street woke up Monday to find antisemitic signs on their windshields and lawns, the latest in a string of hate incidents targeting Jewish neighbors in Chicago.

The antisemitic cardboard signs were discovered on cars and lawns early Monday in the 2900 block of West Sherwin Avenue, police said. Almost every car on the block was targeted, said Yisrael Shapiro, a spokesperson for Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th). 

The signs were placed in a West Ridge neighborhood that is home to a large Jewish and Orthodox Jewish population.

More than a dozen incidents of antisemitic signs left near homes have taken place across seven wards in recent months, Silverstein said. The alderwoman, City Council’s sole Jewish member, said she is working to “combat the rising wave of hate in our city and nation.”

“The flyers were hateful, vile, and absolutely disgusting,” Silverstein wrote in an email to constituents. “Unfortunately, flyering has become a common way for antisemites and other bigots to spread their hate. … We need a coordinated, citywide approach to dealing with this and other hate incidents.”

Mayor Brandon Johnson tweeted about the incident, saying the Chicago Commission on Human Relations is reaching out to Silverstein’s office and neighbors.

“This vile ignorance has no place in our city,” Johnson tweeted. “We urge the public to remain vigilant and remain empowered in fighting back against hate.”

A Chicago Police Department spokesperson said no one is in custody. Area detectives are investigating.

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.

Shlomo Soroka, who lives near the block that was targeted and tweeted about the incident, said he is glad the hateful incidents have not led to physical attacks. That said, Soroka still thinks it’s important for police to investigate and for elected officials across the political spectrum to condemn the signs.

“You got to thread the needle over here and say it’s not acceptable, but at the same time, let’s not make it into a bigger deal than it actually is,” said Soroka, who is the director of government affairs for Orthodox Jewish advocacy group Agudath Israel of Illinois.

Other neighborhoods have been targeted with similar antisemitic flyers and signs in recent months.

Antisemitic graffiti was found in mid-April at Nettlehorst School in Lakeview, ABC7 reported. Two weeks before that, over 80 ziplock bags containing antisemitic flyers and an unknown substance were found in Lincoln Park cars and doorways.

Dozens of antisemitic signs were placed outside the Lincoln Park homes of residents with Jewish names in early February. In January, neighbors found around 100 signs littered with handwritten antisemitic slogans. And in November, Jefferson Park residents reported finding antisemitic signs on cars in at least three separate incidents.

Many of the signs in these cases also contained links to Goyim Defense League websites.

Hate crimes in Chicago have been on the rise since 2020. According to CPD’s Hate Crime Dashboard, anti-Jewish hate crimes significantly outnumber reported hate crimes against any other specific group in 2024 thus far.

Silverstein was behind a measure to update the city’s hate crime ordinance to mandate the city track “hate incidents” as well as hate crimes. Her Chi Vs. Hate ordinance passed City Council late last year.

In response to the recent incidents, Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) proposed an ordinance last month to prohibit “hate littering,” or the leaving of threatening or hateful materials in public spaces. The measure would update the city’s hate crimes and hate incidents municipal code to make such acts punishable with fines up to $1,000.

The ordinance has been referred to the council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations, where it must be debated and voted on before the full City Council can consider it.