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Antisemitic fliers found at Santa Monica elementary and middle schools, prompting investigation

A map of Santa Monica shows seven elementary and middle schools where antisemitic fliers were found

Antisemitic fliers that appear to link Jewish people with the anti-vaccine movement were discovered at several elementary and middle schools in Santa Monica on Thursday morning, the latest in a spate of similar incidents across Los Angeles County, authorities said.

School staffers arriving before 8 a.m. found the posters attached to walls and signage, among other places, said Gail Pinsker, spokesperson for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. At one school, a flier was attached to a bin for book donations, and another one on an electrical unit, she said.

By Thursday evening, district officials were aware of seven schools where the fliers were left, a number that grew from four earlier in the day. Five were elementary schools and two were middle schools, Pinsker said.

The fliers feature what appears to be a red-and-green Star of David with the phrase “anti-vaxxer” written on it in white block letters.

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Santa Monica-Malibu Unified and the city of Santa Monica released a joint statement condemning the act.

“Santa Monica rejects bigotry of any kind and antisemitic rhetoric, intolerance, harassment and violence have no place in our schools or in our community,” the statement said. “We are deeply offended by the antisemitic posters, falsely and nefariously representing pro-vaccine propaganda found at several of our schools.”

A message on the fliers asks people to report those against vaccines “because you care and they don’t” and provides a number to text.

A text to the number, which has a Kentucky area code, say it’s an “Anti Vax Reporting Hotline,” run by the Safer Tomorrow Organization.

“We are a group of parents and concerned citizens securing our children’s future,” the text message reads.

When more information is requested, an automated response states that the organization is “starting to collect (but not act on) information on anti-vaxxers.” It continues, “That way we can work toward a solution together as a society.”

Pasadena and Beverly Hills police said antisemitic fliers that were distributed in several neighborhoods this weekend.

Fliers were found at Edison Language Academy, Will Rogers Learning Community, and McKinley, Roosevelt and Grant elementary schools, as well as John Adams and Lincoln middle schools, according to school officials. It’s believed posters at Roosevelt went up late in the day, after school, Pinsker said in an update.

All the posters, which had sticky backs, were removed by evening, district and city officials said.

“We collectively want to ensure that all of our students, families, and staff, no matter their race, religion or other identity feel safe and welcomed in our schools and in our community,” the district and city said in their joint statement.

Pinsker said the district has a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for staff members and is encouraging students to get shots, but she said those policies did not seem to be connected to the fliers.

Jordanna Gessler, vice president of education at exhibits at Holocaust Museum L.A., said the fliers associate those against vaccination with Jews.

“And it’s a very old antisemitic trope that Jews spread diseases that the Nazis perpetuated,” Gessler said in an emailed statement. “It dates back all the way to the middle ages when Jews were blamed for the Black Plague.”

Last month, fliers filled with antisemitic theories about the COVID-19 pandemic were found in driveways and front lawns of several neighborhoods in Pasadena and Beverly Hills, according to law enforcement officials.

The flier “contains propaganda-style hate speech related to the COVID pandemic and the Jewish people,” the Beverly Hills Police Department said in a statement. More than 200 fliers had been collected.

The fliers mentioned a “COVID agenda” and named several federal health and corporate officials while also noting they were Jewish. “Every Single Aspect of the COVID Agenda Is Jewish,” the leaflets read.

Similar fliers were distributed in other parts of the country, including Texas and North Carolina.

Beth Kean, the museum’s chief executive, called the posters found in Santa Monica “the work of haters.”

“Everyone not only in Santa Monica but throughout Los Angeles and frankly the world should be outraged and offended by such ignorant, insidious and vicious lies created by whomever produced these posters,” Kean said in a statement.

Kean said the museum seeks to educate people about “how such actions resulted in the deaths of millions at the hands of Nazi Germany.”

She added that she expects an investigation by police.

Lt. Rudy Flores, spokesperson for the Santa Monica Police Department, said police were dispatched to the respective schools to collect information.

Flores said the investigation was still in the early stages, and it was not yet identified as a possible hate incident.


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