Seattle police are investigating after racist anti-immigrant flyers connected to a hate group were found at two South Seattle synagogues over the weekend, according to the department.
Officers were called to a synagogue in Seward Park around 10:30 a.m. Sunday after someone reported seeing a man in a mask outside the building, according to a statement from police. Police said congregants found a flyer with racist and anti-immigrant messages taped to the door, which included the website URL for a hate group.
According to police, a witness described seeing a white man in a black baseball hat, black face mask, dark aviator sunglasses and a black zip-up hooded sweatshirt carrying a black suitcase outside the synagogue about the time the flyer was found.
The flyer also was found at another synagogue in the area over the weekend, police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee said.
Photos of the flyer shared on social media showed racist caricatures of Democratic congresswomen of color and anti-immigrant messages. The posters stated they were from a “local Stormer Book Club,” which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes as “small localized crews of white men” who follow and support the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. The groups typically spread their propaganda over the internet and through flyers, according to the ADL.
The ADL’s Pacific Northwest Regional Director Miri Cypers said the flyers were found after nearly a dozen incidents in the past month, in which anti-Semitic or anti-immigrant flyers were found at synagogues around the Puget Sound region.
“In a recent trend that we have observed across the country, these cowardly acts are meant to spread hateful and racist propaganda — sowing seeds of hate against our most vulnerable,” Cypers said in a statement Monday. “Synagogues and other religious institutions are places of worship, community, and safety.”
Seattle Police’s bias-crimes detective is investigating the incident, which comes after a documented rise in hate crimes nationally. In Seattle, reported hate crimes increased nearly 400% between 2012 and 2018.
Officers have conducted additional patrols around synagogues in Seattle, according to police.