People living in the neighborhood are perplexed as to why they have been chosen to receive this garbage
ATLANTA —Brian Taylor has been a resident of the Kirkwood area since 1988. This past Sunday morning, however, he experienced something he had never come across before.
“I thought it was trash,” Taylor told 11Alive, “When I was walking the dog, I did notice some colorful pieces of paper up and down the street. So I’m sure it wasn’t just this house.”
There have been reports of offensive anti-Jewish and anti-trans messages left on the doorsteps of many East Atlanta residential areas such as Lake Claire and Candler Park.
Recently, flyers were discovered that contained plastic bags filled with corn kernels to keep them weighted down. These flyers showcased a large rainbow-colored Star of David and featured QR codes leading to websites with hateful rhetoric toward Jews and trans individuals.
“What a shame, I think it’s ridiculous,” Taylor said. “People are people, and shouldn’t be getting down on others no matter how they are.”
According to Eytan Davidson, the Southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, there has been a drastic boost in Anti-Semitic acts in Georgia between 2021 and 2022. Hence, the Anti-Defamation League recommends registering such incidents with the police or other relevant departments.
“There’s a small group of folks behind these flyer incidents,” Davidson said. “They’re just getting more active. The reason they’re doing this is they’re trying to normalize a disgusting, hateful ideology. Extremists are emboldened. For some reason, people have far less or even no shame in espousing wrong-headed, hateful ideologies meant to intimidate people.”
Davidson commented on how the surge of hate and extremism is having a detrimental effect on many American communities, in both tangible and digital ways. According to him, there are remedies to these issues but they involve legal & legislative action. He believes these measures might take longer to bear fruit.
Representative Esther Panitch of Sandy Springs (R-D) had been sent some anti-Semitic mailers to her property a few months ago. Since then, many households in Fulton County, Cobb County, and even Athens have been victims of similar malicious campaigns.
Last year, Panitch submitted a bill to more accurately define Anti-Semitism, which was unfortunately unsuccessful in being approved by the statehouse.
“It would not have necessarily cut down on the flyers themselves,” Panitch told 11Alive. “We think they’re being put out by the same people who put the flyers in my driveway and lots of my neighbors’ driveways. The definition in the law, which is what the bill is, would help to be able to discern the intent of the person doing it, to know if they went after a Jewish person because they’re Jewish.”
Panitch has voiced his worries that all the heated talk could lead to violence and he’s committed to using legislative means to end it. He is determined to come up with a plan that will stop such activities from occurring.
“Just because you think you’re safe right now doesn’t mean you’ll be safe for very long,” Panitch said. “I get more angry than afraid, so, for me personally, I’ve had to make some security adjustments, but in the general community we’ve had to pray under armed guard for years.”
In response to the flyers, the Atlanta Police Department has increased its patrols and is currently looking into them. However, there have not been any criminal acts attributed to these flyers as of yet, and flyer distribution is often regarded as an exercise of free speech, which makes it almost impossible for the criminal justice system to prosecute it.
Taylor expressed his desire for the flyers to not interfere with the serene atmosphere of his neighborhood.
“Just accept them. We’re all different,” Taylor said. “That’s what makes the world, everybody’s different. If everybody was the same, it would be pretty boring wouldn’t it?”