Police investigate after racist flyers found at South Seattle synagogues

SEATTLE — Officers with the Seattle Police Department are investigating after several racist, anti-immigrant flyers were found at South Seattle synagogues on Sunday.

Police said they were called to a synagogue located in the 6500 block of 52nd Avenue South around 10:30 a.m. after a man wearing a mask was seen outside the building.

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Word of this flyer spread quickly throughout Seattle's Jewish community.

"I got the notification yesterday," said Ari Hoffman, activist and former Seattle City Council candidate.

"Yesterday was Tisha B'av, which is one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar.  So to receive something like this on that specific day is pretty horrifying."

Hoffman stood outside the Sephardic Bikur Holim synagogue in Seward Park, a day after the flyer went up there.

"It's not surprising," he said. "It's just another thing in a long string of events that happens to Jews around the world. It's upsetting. It's depressing. It makes me angry. But the same time, it's something we're just accustomed to."

"Congregants also found a flier taped to the door, which contained racist and anti-immigrant messages, and included a website URL for a hate-group," police wrote in a blotter post.

Police said a witness reported seeing a man outside the synagogue around the time the flyer was found.

Witnesses described the man as being Caucasian and told police he was wearing a black baseball hat, a black face mask, dark-colored aviator sunglasses and a black zip-up hooded sweatshirt. They said he was carrying a black suitcase.

The Police Department's bias crimes detective is investigating that incident and a similar one that occurred at another synagogue, officials said.

Officials said the department has been conducting additional patrols around area synagogues.

The flyer appears to be a rip-off of an editorial cartoon posted on the website, Legal Insurrection.com.  It depicts the four, first-term congresswoman known as "The Squad." The female politicians have been critical of President Trump.  And in turn, he and his supporters have targeted them.

Miri Cypers, the Pacific Northwest Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League, sent out the following statement after the flyers were found:

"We are deeply troubled by the recent string of anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant flyers being posted at synagogues and churches across the Seattle area. This past weekend, a white supremacist group targeted synagogues in the Seward Park community with racist, anti-immigrant propaganda as part of an ongoing coordinated effort.

"In a recent trend that we have observed across the country, these cowardly acts are meant to spread hateful and racist propaganda – sowing seeds of hate against our most vulnerable. Synagogues and other religious institutions are places of worship, community, and safety. ADL commends law enforcement for their swift response and encourages community members to continue reporting hateful propaganda to ADL and local law enforcement."

She says the flyers are a sign the threat is escalating.

"Many, many minorities and immigrants are feeling under siege," said Cypers.

"This is actually part of what we think is a month-long coordinated effort by this white supremacist group at other synagogues especially in North Seattle," said Cypers. "But we've also learned of them in other churches in the Puget Sound."

This is the first time they have seen these flyers.

"We've actually seen this group becoming more active in our area and more emboldened," Cypers said. "But this is a new flyer and a new piece of propaganda that we've been seeing."

Seattle police have assigned these flyers to their bias crime team. Eyewitnesses told police they saw a man dressed entirely in black carrying a black suitcase at the time the flyers were left.

Anyone who has seen the possible suspect is being asked to call police.