SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents living in Sarasota’s Arlington Park community woke up this weekend to find anti-Semitic messages at the end of their driveways.
The paper flyers were tucked into plastic bags with rice to weigh them down. The same thing happened in nearby neighborhoods about six weeks ago.
Sarasota police were called out to Craft Lane Saturday morning. The responding officer noted both the delivery method and literature of the flyers were consistent with previous instances in neighborhoods a few miles away.
“It feels like we are being targeted in Sarasota, but actually it is happening everywhere. That is the sad part, that what is happening in our community is happening elsewhere,” said Brian Lipton, the regional director of the American Jewish Committee for the west coast of Florida. “The thing that we are so proud about in Sarasota is that we know this is isn’t representative of our community. We have heard from our friends in the Catholic community and the Muslim community. The calls have just been so supportive to us and shows us that we are going to stand together and we will not let hate win… not here, not anywhere.”
Back when flyers were scattered across residential streets in February, residents in Cherokee Park launched a unity campaign. Now, thousands of yard signs reading “United Against Hate” are posted across the county and beyond.
The Jewish Federation of Sarasota Manatee also held a “unity rally” following the February incidents. CEO Shep Englander says Sarasota has already responded to the hate.
“Over 400 people came together — Jewish, non-Jewish, Black, white, men, women, young, old — and said we are united against hate,” Englander said. “Their question is can we find a way to divide this community, can we find a way to get neighbors to blame neighbors or to have people deny it and look the other way and we’ve already answered the question. The answer is no.”
Similar flyers have been dispersed in communities across the nation.
“This group is not a local group… it is a national group. They chose Sarasota as one of the 50+ cities where they dump their hateful garbage,” Englander said. “Every day that we go on to listen to each other, to respect the differences, to be inclusive, we are defeating them.”