Antisemitic propaganda, wood chips found on vehicles at PBSO headquarters

Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 10:50 AM EST
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Antisemitic propaganda and wood chips were discovered Sunday morning in the employee parking lot at Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office headquarters, a spokeswoman told WPTV.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said someone left the antisemitic propaganda and small bags filled with an unknown substance – later determined to be wood chips – on more than a few vehicles in the employee parking lot.

That prompted calls to the bomb squad and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue's hazardous materials teams to test the substance.

Barbera said there was never any threat to the public.

The incident is just the latest in a series of similar antisemitic messaging throughout Palm Beach County.

Some Boca Raton residents said they received packets with antisemitic messages in their driveways and front yards Jan. 14.

That was the same day that antisemitic messages and a Nazi swastika were projected onto the AT&T building in downtown West Palm Beach.

"I am not surprised but continue to be shocked," Michael Hoffman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, said. "Not surprised because antisemitism has been on the rise. I am shocked that it is hitting so close to home because these are not incidents that we are accustomed to in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County."

Members of the Jewish community gathered outside the building Saturday night to condemn the messages of hate.

"They are trying to invoke a kind of fear in our community," Hoffman said. "We will not let them scare us. We will not let acts of hatred and intolerance and antisemitism bring us down."

The expressions of hate are on the rise in Florida according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League. In 2021, the number of reported incidents increased 50% over 2020. The steep rise is concerning Palm Beach County leaders, including State Attorney Dave Aronberg.

"These are the types of actions that affect me not just as a state attorney, but as a Jewish individual," Aronberg said. "These individuals want attention, and they are going to continue to do this as long as they can garnish attention, but at the same time, they do risk facing charges if they push it too far."

Aronberg said those charges are in the works, as he is planning to speak with state legislators about potential new laws to hold these actions accountable.

"Like broadcasting messages on a private building without the owner's consent and strengthening our anti-littering laws so that people that throw these things on your driveways can at least be held accountable for littering," Aronberg said.

For now, as leaders investigate what can be done, the Jewish community is left with a new mindset.

"It is frustrating, but for now, the proper response is for the community to come together like we did last night," Aronberg said. "Send the message that hate is never the answer in Palm Beach County."

Palm Beach County Mayor Greg Weiss said he and other leaders plan to hold a roundtable Tuesday to discuss creating laws that would keep these types of incidents from happening again.

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