The Berkeley Police Department and City Council released a joint statement on Monday afternoon condemning hateful messages left on the doorsteps of houses in the north Berkeley hills.
According to the statement, "hundreds" of neighbors found plastic sandwich bags on their doorsteps on Feb. 20 that were "filled with hateful, Anti-Semitic messaging." The police said that the bags were delivered "randomly."
The council and police say the messages were placed by a "small, fringe white supremacist extreme group" that targets Jewish communities as well as other minority groups throughout the Bay Area.
Though the joint statement doesn't explicitly say what was in the messages, it notes that "identical" anti-Semitic "screeds" blaming the COVID pandemic on the Jewish people have been disseminated across the country.
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When Michael Cullen went outside to get his Sunday morning paper, he expected to bring it inside and have a cup of coffee. But he also saw the flyer.
Cullen is Jewish and in a way feels like he was targeted.
“Finding this is my driveway, it feels more personal. It’s something not to be forgotten or pushed aside,” he said.
It happened in Susan Wengraf's district.
“We defend free speech in Berkeley, however, we do not defend hate speech,” she said.
The entire city is denouncing the flyer.
"As the center of the free-speech movement, Berkeley has always supported people's rights under the First Amendment," reads the statement. "But let's be clear-- The Berkeley City Council and our community soundly reject and condemn ANY hate-filled messages and any inference to discrimination of any kind to any person or group."
The Berkeley Police said they were "highly prioritizing" the hate messages and are actively investigating the case. BPD is asking anyone with camera footage or any other information about the canvassing to call (510) 981-5900.
“I don’t know what comes next but this needs to be pushed back on and exposed and fought against," said Cullen.