Police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Friday fined a 56-year-old man $4,300 in fines after he put antisemitic flyers on car windshields, driveways and sidewalks.
The police issued him 23 citations for violating a local littering ordinance.
The citations do not mention antisemitism.
The ordinance that the man violated describes littering as: "[To] throw, place or deposit any paper, glass, bottle, cans, containers, grass clippings, rubbish, waste, filth or other debris upon private property without the consent of the owner or occupant, or upon the streets, alleys, highways, sidewalks, parks, or beaches, or into any pond, stream, river or lake."
Police did not reveal the man's name in their statement on Friday, but the man can appeal the citation in municipal court.
Kenosha police explained that officers have been investigating antisemitic flyers since December 2021, according to the statement.
Free speech or hate crime?
Police also say that technically, the flyer is a form of free speech, protected by the First Amendment. But Kenosha residents expressed their concerns and asked if the act of distributing the fliers could be considered a hate crime.
The FBI defines hate crimes as "criminal offenses against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity."
Kenosha Police Public Information Officer Joseph Nosalik responded to the residents, saying, "Recognizing the fear and concerns surrounding the flyer distribution, KPD committed to continuing the investigation, which we did."
"The flyers come from a long history of accusing the Jews of anything and everything to ferment hatred."Marilyn Propp, Jewish Kenosha resident
Some of the residents say that the littering charges don't go far enough. Marilyn Propp, a Jewish Kenosha resident, told TMJ4 Milwaukee that she picked up an antisemitic flyer months ago and she got scared.
"The flyers come from a long history of accusing the Jews of anything and everything to ferment [sic] hatred," she said. "Hatred leads to violence, and that's terrifying."
StopAntisemitism.org released photos of one of the fliers, which read, "Every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish" and provided a long list with a QR code leading to a website called GoyimTV.
The white supremacist group 'Goyim Defense League' - led by Jon Minadeo II- has targeted Kenosha, WI with their antisemitic fliers drops for the 12th time now.The fliers depict Jews of controlling the media as well blaming COVID on the Jewish people's "agenda". pic.twitter.com/Gbse3QkQKb— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) May 25, 2022
The CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Miryam Rosenzweig, told CBS58, "We encourage anybody who sees anything to report it. That is the most important thing we can do, is to track it, be able to see it and share it so that we can see these patterns so we work together with law enforcement."
"It's important for us as a society to recognize that these expressions are getting more and more," she added.
According to FBI hate crime statistics, hate crimes against the Jewish people in America were the most frequent religiously-based hate crimes, making up 57.8% of them.
"It's important for us as a society to recognize that these expressions are getting more and more."Miryam Rosenzweig, CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation