Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Neo Nazi Fliers Found in Santa Cruz Neighborhood

Santa Cruz Count Sheriff is looking for this man captured on a security camera.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the distribution of numerous neo-Nazi flyers in neighborhoods around the Rancho Del Mar and Aptos Center shopping plazas this week

Word of the posters, titled “Arayan Nations” and containing racist, antisemitic and homophobic text, spread to media, law enforcement and in various social media discussions this week. Community members described at least two versions of the flyers, some attached to utility poles and others folded into plastic bags full of rice and dropped onto residential porches between late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend, whose second district includes Aptos, said that one of his constituents alerted him to the circulating flyers. “No one should have to wake up to words of hate outside their front door,” Friend said of the incident Thursday. “Doing it in the dead of night shows the cowardice and callousness of the act. I’m hopeful a unified local response will show there’s no place for that in our community.”

A Reddit discussion about the flyers being distributed inside bags of rice garnered nearly 90 comments by Thursday, while a Nextdoor thread with more than 60 comments described sightings of the flyer on Heather Terrace and around the Mar Vista neighborhood. Public comments on both forums were overwhelmingly critical of the flyers’ messages and some shared personal stories, dating back years, of being targeted in Aptos for their race or religion.

Two related black-and-white photocopied flyers viewed by the Sentinel each included swastikas and cartoonish, racially charged and anti-Semitic caricatures and similar messaging. Also included in the materials was a website link to a purportedly Phoenix, Arizona-based white supremacist Christian organization. The flyers were posted in neighbors just a mile from the Temple Beth El Jewish Community Center of Santa Cruz on Porter Gulch Road.

Temple Beth El Rabbi Paula Marcus said she has been in touch with the Sheriff’s Office in the wake of the flyers’ distribution, a typical response when anti-Semitic incidents occur locally or nationally. Deputies often increase their patrols around the synagogue to supplement its own private security patrol, as well, she said.

“If you look at the flyers themselves, they’re taking classic references to what is considered white nationalism, so we’re always concerned when those tropes appear,” Marcus said. “But I myself don’t feel like our community is more under threat than we were five days ago. This just surfaces and we know it’s there and unfortunately, we know there’s been a rise in anti-Semitic acts. More synagogues have been graffitied in the last four to five years. We also see this as not just an issue of antisemitism, but racism because this is not just against the Jews, it’s also against all people of color.”

Ashley Keehn, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, said a member of the public reported that flyers had been distributed at several places in Aptos, including residential Poppy Way. An email with a photo of a flyer was forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, she said.

“We do have the flyers and we are investigating to determine if there is any crime that has been committed,” Keehn said. “But at this point, it doesn’t look like any specific people were targeted. But, again, it is something we’re looking into.”

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors declared racism a public health crisis in 2020, while the city of Capitola in March voted to institutionalize city implicit bias training shortly after painted rocks and flyers directing observers to a website rallying against “white guilt” were distributed around town. In July, two men were charged with felony vandalism and a hate crime in connection with the defacing of Santa Cruz’s Black Lives Matter mural on Center Street.

Members of the public with information related to the incident may contact the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency dispatch line at 831-471-1121.