San Diego Councilmember working on new law to curb antisemetic littering

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San Diego City Councilman Raul Campillo Thursday announced legislation he is working on to strengthen laws that would deter hateful incidents like dozens of antisemitic flyers found on car windshields in Allied Gardens in July.

"The perpetrators of these antisemitic crimes won't just stop `flyering' out of the goodness of their hearts -- they need strong laws to deter them, and our laws on the books now aren't forceful enough," Campillo said. "My office is actively working on legislation to address this disparity. I want the community to be the first to know that we are taking action on this. Help is on the way to stop these hateful incidents."

Campillo's ordinance would amend and expand the city's municipal code, making it a misdemeanor for any person to litter "with the intent to willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress or threaten any other person based on their perceived characteristics," a statement from his office read. The ordinance will come before Public Safety Committee and ultimately the City Council in coming months.

Campillo was joined Thursday by Jewish leaders, anti-hate organizations, law enforcement, other faith leaders and members of the community, who were on hand to show their support for action to address these crimes. These groups included StopAntisemitism, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation of San Diego, and others.

"StopAntisemitism has been tracking these vile flyers for years and we know that they are more than just trolling -- they're inciting hate," said Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism, a national nonpartisan organization dedicated to fighting antisemitism. "That's why we are proud to work with Councilmember Campillo on this initiative because taking action to hold these bigots accountable is in everyone's best interest."

San Diego has seen multiple antisemitic flyering incidents in recent months largely taking place in District 7, represented by Campillo. According to his office, under current law, the city attorney has limited ability to prosecute these incidents of hateful littering.

In July, the antisemitic flyers were found on car windshields on Zion and Archwood streets in the Allied Gardens area. Just days before, a rabbi was assaulted at a convenience store near San Diego State.

"The Jewish community is thankful for the support, friendship and partnership of our many neighbors and friends who have stood with us time and again in the face of blind hatred aimed at our people," said Devorah Marcus, senior rabbi at Temple Emanu-El and Former Chair of the San Diego Rabbinical Association. "San Diego has a long and rich history of being a multicultural city of diversity and we celebrate the beauty of our diversity with all of our neighbors.

"We want to thank our neighbor and friend, Councilmember Campillo, for focusing on action that will hold the peddlers of hate and incitement accountable for their actions and dissemination of libelous slander that leads directly to violence and death," Marcus said.

Earlier this year, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors signed a resolution denouncing antisemitic rhetoric and hate crimes, citing rising antisemetic crimes in recent years.

Then-Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer introduced the resolution.

According to county data, in 2021, the Jewish community in San Diego experienced 38 recorded incidents of antisemitism, including 14 cases of vandalism, 23 incidents of harassment and one assault. On April 27, 2019, Chabad of Poway synagogue was the site of an antisemetic shooting in which one person was killed and three were injured.

In 2020 the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 6% increase in hate crimes from the previous year, representing the highest total in 12 years, and found that attacks against Jews or Jewish institutions made up nearly 60% of all religious-based hate crimes.

Despite this trend, a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that San Diego was one of just a handful of American cities where hate crimes had decreased, with many other posting double-digit percentage point increases. However, nationally, hate crimes against people of the Jewish faith had increased 28%, according to the center.

In the San Diego Association of Governments' annual crime report, which covers the county, hate crimes increased by 9%. In the city of San Diego, hate crimes dropped by 17.4%, according to the San Diego Police Department's figures.

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