Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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San Diego Works on Ordinance to Criminalize ‘Hate Littering’ of Antisemitic Flyers

Flanked by Jewish leaders and police officials, San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo on Thursday announced that he is working with the city on an ordinance to criminalize antisemitic flyers. Jewish advocacy – StopAntisemitism – shared the announcement on Twitter.

The idea came in response to a rash of incidents in recent months in which antisemitic flyers were found on car windshields in neighborhoods including communities Campillo represents, such as Allied Gardens, Del Cerro and San Carlos.

“What irks me so much is that these hateful people leave these flyers around our community in the most cowardly way — in the middle of the night,” Campillo said during a news conference at Jewish synagogue Temple Emanu-El in Del Cerro.

The perpetrators — Campillo attributed the flyers to White supremacists — hope some residents are radicalized while others turn a blind eye, he said.

“They do this believing that the rest of us will do little to address this assault on our Jewish neighbors,” he said. “That inaction stops today.”

Since July, San Diego police have documented eight incidents involving antisemitic flyers in the department’s Eastern Division, which includes Allied Gardens and surrounding neighborhoods. The incidents remain under investigation, with no arrests as of Thursday.

Police say antisemitic flyers are investigated as hate incidents — acts that don’t rise to the level of hate crimes. Campillo said that “under the current municipal code, it’s nearly impossible to address (hate incidents) with any significance.”

The idea for the ordinance is to target the flyers as “hate littering.” Campillo said the ordinance would make it a misdemeanor for anyone to litter “with the intent to willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten” anyone based on their “perceived characteristics,” which include race, religion and sexual orientation.

Punishment would include up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

“I’m not going to sit by while families and children and faith leaders continuously wake up to these hate-filled and threatening images, believing that there’s nothing their city can do to protect them,” said Campillo, a former prosecutor in the City Attorney’s Office. “We can do something, and we’re going to do it.”

While hate speech is protected under the First Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld penalty enhancements for bias-based crimes, Campillo said.

“I feel very confident that we’ll be able to pass a law that meets that scrutiny,” he said.

Jewish leaders and anti-hate officials applauded the idea. They said incidents such as antisemitic flyers incite hate and lead to violent attacks on Jewish community members.

On July 24, a man screamed antisemitic comments at a rabbi and ripped off part of his religious garb at a 7-Eleven store on College Avenue near Montezuma Avenue, not far from Chabad House at San Diego State University.

Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism, a watchdog group that combats antisemitism, said Campillo’s initiative “says to these bigots loud and clear that they are not welcome here.” She said she hopes the county and state will follow suit.

Campillo said the City Attorney’s Office is reviewing the ordinance, which will go before the Public Safety Committee and then the City Council by the end of the year.