Residents of Bel Air’s Fountain Glen neighborhood awoke Wednesday morning to discover fliers with anti-Semitic, white supremacist messages distributed throughout their subdivision.
“Deputies assigned to the Southern Precinct were called to the 1400 block of E. Banavie Terrace,” read a press release issued by Cristie Kahler, director of media and public relations for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. “Upon arrival, [a] deputy met with a resident of the Fountain Glen neighborhood and observed several fliers that contained white supremacy literature.”
Although deputies canvassed the neighborhood, no suspects or witnesses were identified.
The fliers, which were packaged in plastic bags with rocks to prevent them from blowing away, were emblazoned with images of swastikas and read, “White man Are you sick and tired of the Jews destroying your country through mass immigration and degeneracy? Join us in the struggle for global white supremacy.”
Beneath the text was the URL for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that the Southern Poverty Law Center has called “the top hate site in America.”
As of today, Kahler said no additional information about the matter is known, and there are currently no suspects.
In a statement, Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said, “We condemn acts of hate and divisiveness that target any members of our community. We encourage law enforcement to thoroughly investigate and are willing to provide any assistance that might be helpful.”
Kahler said the sheriff’s office will indeed continue to investigate the situation. “The next step is to utilize our community policing unit to work with neighborhood watch organizations,” she said. “When events like this occur, residents are the best sources. Please call law enforcement, even if you think of something in upcoming days. It’s hard to find the people responsible without witnesses.”
Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin, spiritual leader of Temple Adas Shalom in Havre de Grace, said she first became aware of the matter on Wednesday when she saw a Facebook posting about it by a member of a local group called Indivisible Harford County. The group is a local affiliate of a national organization that provides training for community leaders striving to make political change in their communities.
“Someone had posted a photo of the flier and wrote, ‘This was on a driveway on my street.’ Others copied the post,’” said Rabbi Ruskin.
Upon learning about the fliers, she said her first thoughts were of residents of the neighborhood, especially several Temple Adas Shalom congregants who live there. “They must feel invaded to find something like that right in their neighborhood,” Rabbi Ruskin said.
Indeed, Temple Adas Shalom congregant and Fountain Glen resident Elizabeth Westendorf described the incident as “shocking.”
While Westendorf’s home wasn’t targeted, she said she knows two fellow congregants who live in the area and another neighbor who received fliers. “I have lived in this neighborhood for almost 20 years and have never had anything like that happen here,” she said.
Westendorf described Fountain Glen as a neighborhood with a diverse population. She said she is perplexed why the neighborhood was a target for white supremacist literature.
Westendorf said she is pleased that people are expressing their feelings about the incident on social media, giving support to their neighbors, and that the story is being covered by the media.
Rabbi Ruskin said she believes the “anti-Semitic, anti-foreign” climate that emerged during and since the presidential election has caused people to feel “on edge and afraid.” She said her concerns recently prompted her to partner more frequently with Imam Sheikh Omar Baloch from Masjid Al Falaah mosque in Abingdon and Pastor Baron D. Young, spiritual leader of the St. James AME Church in Havre de Grace, to create interfaith programming for congregation members.
They plan to hold a “Call to the Covenant” program at which members of all the congregations will “pray for the spiritual health of the country” and educate attendees on the differences between mainstream Islam and Jihadi Islam.
“We all agree that this kind of rage and hatred has been here all along,” said Rabbi Ruskin. “It’s just that now, people feel emboldened to express it. Now that it’s out in the open, maybe we can begin to deal with it. At times like this, people turn to their religious traditions to give them guidance and inspiration.
“Now that we’re living in these times, I’m so glad we’ve formed.”
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