Messages of unity and neighborly love replace antisemitic hate flyers in Thurston
Following a rash of antisemitic hate messaging in parts of Springfield over the last month, the organized Jewish community is speaking out.
The Oregon Department of Justice confirms the flyers left up and down the streets of Thurston neighborhoods were part of a campaign organized by an extremist hate group.
Margot Helphand is chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council with the Jewish Federation of Lane County. “There’s no doubt that hate speech like this, bias incidents and hate crimes, cause harm,” she said. “Both-- to the people who are targeted and to the wider community.”
Helphand then described the response of many residents in Thurston as one of unity. Many banded together to post flyers with positive, anti-hate messages. “They decided not to be silent,” she said. “And I think that’s the message that we can never be silent when there’s bias and discrimination. Solidarity can drown out the hate.”
The mission of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Lane County is to educate and advocate on issues of vital importance to the organized Jewish community and respond to antisemitism and other forms of hate in local communities.
The Jewish Community Relations Council works with NAACP, members of the Latino community and members of the LGBTQ+ communities, as well as the City of Eugene and Lane County to discuss ways to respond when hate based incidents arise and form policies which “affirm our common humanity in the face of baseless hatred,” Helphand said.
These hate speech campaigns have been found to be organized by an extremist hate group known for their antisemitic, racist, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+ flyering efforts. Helphand said the intent of this (purposely unnamed) hate group is to spread animosity, divide and create fear, however “messages of love and solidarity overpower all hate speech.”
The Springfield Police Department and the Civil Rights Unit of the Oregon DOJ continue to investigate the Thurston case.