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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

City officials, GPD respond to white supremacist flyers in Gainesville neighborhoods

The content was antisemitic and referenced the Great Replacement Theory

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-4aebab98-7fff-6b2b-a5b8-d1c698872106"><span>Prayer books are laid out at the Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Student and Community Center for the Rosh Hashanah service. Around 650 members of the community and students attended the holiday service Sunday night.</span></span></p>

Prayer books are laid out at the Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Student and Community Center for the Rosh Hashanah service. Around 650 members of the community and students attended the holiday service Sunday night.

When Rodney Samuel and Linda Potter, an interracial couple in Sutters Landing, found a Ziploc bag with corn kernels and a slip of paper on their driveway Saturday, they didn’t think too much of it.  

Upon a closer look, Samuel and Potter were startled to realize the flyer on their property was filled with antisemitic and white supremacist language. 

Gainesville residents in multiple neighborhoods received flyers at their homes over the weekend condemning race-mixing and positing a Jewish conspiracy in an incident now under investigation by the Gainesville Police Department. 

“Stop race mixing. Stop immigration,” the flyer read. ”Start having white children.”

It included an antisemitic caricature and alleged Jewish people ran all levels of society with declarations such as, “Who owns the Banks? Jews.” 

“It was just unfortunate to see that,” said Samuel, who is Black and a former law enforcement officer. “I’m not surprised that I see it here because of the fact that I know that we have a lot of racial tension here.”

A resident first notified GPD about the situation at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, said Jaime Kurnick, the department’s chief inspector. The department responded at Northwest 53rd Ave., she said. The resident recieved a clear plastic bag on her driveway filled with kernels and a white sheet of paper promoting white supremacy and antisemitism. 

Another individual saw people in a black sedan throw bags at random toward homes, Kurnick said, and a Ring video doorbell captured the car on camera. GPD notified statewide and nationwide law enforcement agencies of the situation. 

Kurnick said GPD confirmed occurrences in the Mile Run and Sutters Landing neighborhoods.

The flyers centered around support for the Great Replacement Theory, which alleges an organized elite agenda of utilizing minorities to replace the white U.S. population and politically undermine them. 

The false theory served as a motive for the May Buffalo mass shooting where a white man killed 10 Black people in a supermarket in a racially targeted assault. The fear of white replacement also motivated the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting — the man who committed the mass murder decried the “Hispanic invasion of Texas” on the Internet before the shooting. 

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Potter, who is white, also recognizes the reality of racial strife in her own community.

“There’s always tension no matter where you go. We don’t personally see it because we love each other and we show it and everybody appreciates that,” she said of her relationship with Samuel. “But it is out there.”

Mayor Lauren Poe condemned the messages and said they didn’t accurately reflect Gainesville’s true nature. 

“This in no way represents our own community,” he said. “What we can do as a community is just stand united against this type of hateful message and this type of bigotry and let all of our neighbors know that they’re welcome here and that we will stand up for their rights.” 

Harvey Ward and David Arreola, two city commissioners who are running to be Gainesville’s next mayor, also denounced the flyers.

People with a platform have a responsibility to vocally speak out against the hate and rally the community against it, Ward said.

Antisemitism has been a recurring issue within the Gainesville community. The Jewish UF fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi had a swastika painted on its house in 2009, UF Hillel’s outdoor menorah for Hanukkah was vandalized in 2010 and the UF Jewish Center sign was also vandalized in 2017

Rabbi Berl Goldman, director of UF’s Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Student and Community Center, praised the spirit of Gainesville in the face of the hateful messages.

“The community is wonderful,” Goldman said. “We support each other. We love each other. We respect each other. For every act of hate and bias that they express, another act of kindness, love and support is projected.” 

Contact Omar at Follow him on Twitter @OAteyah.

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Omar Ateyah

Omar Ateyah is a third-year journalism student and the Alligator's Race and Equity reporter. He previously served as the Alligator's crime reporter and as a news assistant on the Metro Desk. He enjoys going on long, thoughtful walks. 

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