At least three different flyers were distributed in the Sunset neighborhood near Lincoln and Eastern avenues, not far from Arcata Elementary School, where one resident told the Journal they found the leaflets on their driveway in separate plastic bags, each weighed down by three pennies.
One was titled “Every aspect of Disney child grooming is Jewish,” using an attack buzzword increasingly being baselessly thrown around by right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists who turned their ire on the entertainment and theme park powerhouse when the company criticized Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” included a rainbow-colored Star of David.
Each bore a dubious attempt at a disclaimer, which states, “These flyers were distributed randomly without malicious intent” and links to a YouTube-like video sharing website with right wing, conspiracy theorist hate videos.
Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn told the Journal he was made aware of the flyers yesterday and officers were sent out to the neighborhood but did not locate any more of the hate propaganda.
He urged anyone who has information on this incident or any others to contact the department at 822-2424.
“With each person we talk to we can continue to piece together the who, what, why, where, when and how,” Ahearn said, “which gives us more of ability to figure out who did this and for what purpose, and is it part of a bigger enterprise and what crime potential is there.”
Ahearn, describing the distribution as a “heinous act,” also urged anyone in the area with an outdoor camera to contact the department or check out footage to see if they might have caught people distributing the flyers on video.
“Get the police department involved, let us investigate, let us follow up, let us process the evidence,” he said.
Eureka Police Department spokesperson Susie Owsley said no incidents had been reported to the agency as of Wednesday night but the department was aware of the situation in Arcata.
The flyers arrived one week after state Attorney General Rob Bonta released the 2021 Hate Crime in California Report, which showed a 33-percent increase in bias events over last year — reaching levels not seen since the aftermath of 2001 terrorist attacks — with Bonta describing the numbers as showing the “epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat.”
“As our state’s top law enforcement officer, I will continue to use the full authority of my office to fight back,” he stated in a news release. “We will keep working with our local law enforcement partners and community organizations to make sure every Californian feels seen, heard and protected. While there is no single solution, it’s up to all of us to heed the call, because when our communities feel empowered, they come forward. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we stand united — there is no place for hate in California.”
According to the report, there were eight reported hate crime incidents in Humboldt County involving 13 offenses and 12 victims, with two of those taking place in Arcata and one at then Humboldt State University.
The remaining five that took place in Eureka were the only cases with suspects.
According to the FBI hate crime database, 10 were reported in Humboldt County in 2019 (the last year for which numbers are available), including two in Eureka and eight at HSU. In 2018, four hate crimes were reported — one in Eureka and three at HSU.
In this recent Arcata incident, one of the flyers also contain Bible verses with references to Satan and another titled “Let’s Go, Brandon” — a not-so-secret right-wing code term that means Fuck Joe Biden — states “Facts don’t care about feelings.”
The neighborhood resident who contacted the Journal described finding the flyers as “difficult, hurtful, scary and confusing,” noting they don’t know other Jewish people in the area and “it felt super directed.”
The individual, who asked not to be named, said they took the flyers to the APD.
“It’s crazy to be reminded that people think this way, that they still think this way,” they said, adding that if the person or persons who dropped off the flyers really do believe in the hate rhetoric, it’s “scary to think if they’d act on this.”