By Josh Campbell and Aya Elamroussi, CNN
A hate crime investigation is underway in the Texas city of Colleyville, where worshipers were held hostage in a synagogue last month, after anti-Semitic and White separatist flyers sealed in clear sandwich bags were left in driveways, authorities said.
Police, in a Facebook post on Sunday, pointed out that similar flyers have appeared in cities including San Francisco, Miami and Denver and said the department was in communication with the FBI.
“In what appears to be a coordinated effort in cities across the country, anti-Semitic and other racist materials were distributed in clear sandwich bags to parts of our city overnight,” Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton said in a written statement Sunday. “The City unequivocally denounces hate in any form — it has no place in our city.”
In late January, hundreds of anti-Semitic flyers were distributed to homes in South Florida, authorities said. The Anti-Defamation League said at the time that similar flyers were distributed in five other states: Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, California and Maryland.
A copy of one flyer obtained in January by CNN showed an image of the Star of David along with a list of top government health officials, pharmaceutical company leaders, and heads of investment management companies, which the flyer incorrectly stated were all Jewish, along with other Jewish hate speech on the back.
A spokesperson for the FBI told CNN on Tuesday that the bureau was coordinating with local authorities to determine whether any federal violations exist.
On January 15, the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville endured a terrifying ordeal when a man took four members hostage during a nearly 11-hour stand-off with authorities. Malik Faisal Akram, 44, was shot and killed by FBI agents after the four hostages escaped.
Investigators have said they believe that Akram, a British national, was partially motivated a desire to see the release of convicted extremist Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year federal prison sentence in Fort Worth. She was not involved in the Colleyville standoff, her attorney said.
The FBI has said it’s investigating that incident as a hate crime and an act of terrorism.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who escaped the hostage situation, said earlier this month that nonprofits and religious institutions need additional federal security funding.
The “gap between the need and funding is profound,” he told a House Homeland Security panel, noting specific needs of small congregations.
Anti-Semitic attacks, including assaults, vandalism and harassment, are on the rise in US, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL documented 2,024 incidents of anti-Semitism in 2020, according to its annual audit. It was the third highest number of incidents since the organization began tracking in 1979, it said.
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