Lawrence residents report finding anti-Semitic materials on lawns
photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World
Anti-Semitic materials turned up on some lawns and driveways in a west Lawrence neighborhood this week.
Small baggies containing flyers blaming Jewish people for the “COVID agenda” were reportedly found in neighborhoods on Inverness Drive and Kasold Drive, according to residents in the area. The flyer says, in all capital letters, “Every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish,” and it lists the names of various health and corporate officials.
“It sickens me to think someone is trying to spread such propaganda,” one resident wrote on social media.
Lawrence police are aware of the flyers, but are not aware of any crimes related to them, said Laura McCabe, spokesperson for the Lawrence Police Department.
Both the police department and a spokesman for the City of Lawrence declined, without more information, to comment on whether the action would at least be considered littering.
The department released this statement on Friday about the materials:
“It has been brought to our attention that antisemitic flyers have been found in West Lawrence. While these types of messages can be disturbing, free speech is protected unless it rises to the level of a criminal threat or breaks a city ordinance. Our preliminary investigation leads us to believe the notes were distributed by a group traveling through towns and Lawrence is not at increased risk. It is important to call police dispatch right away if you witness illegal activity.”
The Journal-World spoke to Lawrence Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel with the Chabad Jewish Center about the materials on Thursday.
“It’s very disturbing. We live in such a diverse, multicultural, welcoming community. I can understand the discomfort and the pain this can cause a person who is a minority being attacked. This does not represent the real Lawrence. Lawrence, Kansas, is a really loving, embracing and kind community,” Tiechtel said.
He said that he has experienced “next to no” anti-Semitism in his 16 years as a rabbi in Lawrence and that the materials in question do not represent the community he knows. He encourages anyone concerned about anti-Semitism in the community to contact the Chabad House.
“We encourage anyone in this community who is disheartened, pained or disturbed by this ugly display of hate to reach out. We are here, we are available. We believe that when people try to create an environment where other human beings are shunned or disregarded, the best response is to stand taller and stand prouder. We do not in any way diminish or cower in fear,” Tiechtel said.
The Journal-World also reached out to the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation but did not receive a response as of Friday afternoon.
Porter Arneill, communications director with the City of Lawrence, said that if residents are finding these flyers in the community they should contact Lawrence Police Department at 785-832-7509 and make a report.