Hate crime detectives are investigating after someone taped antisemitic leaflets to a Carmichael synagogue two weeks after residents in a nearby neighborhood found packages with a printed Nazi swastika outside their homes.
About 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, dispatchers received a call from a member of the synagogue in Carmichael. The caller reported that someone had taped antisemitic leaflets to the menorah in front of the synagogue, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday in a news release.
Deputies responded and canvassed the neighborhood, looking for potential witnesses and security camera video that could be helpful in the investigation. Crime scene investigators collected evidence found at the scene.
The Sheriff’s Office homeland security and hate crime detectives were investigating the incident at the synagogue and following up on leads. Sheriff’s officials said there was no suspect description or further information available on Thursday.
Rabbi Boris Tsiprush of Shalom le Israel Messianic Synagogue said an elder from the synagogue at 6733 Fair Oaks Blvd. was the first to spot leaflets with pictures of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler taped all over the menorah. She then informed the rabbi, who called the Sheriff’s Office.
Tsiprush said the leaflets also had “Hitler was right” and “Aryan Nations” printed on them. He said some of the older members of the synagogue told him they are skipping Shabbat services on Saturday, because they’re afraid the disturbing behavior could escalate to violence.
The rabbi said he’s urging synagogue members to not be afraid, telling them they all need to respond to these intimidation tactics with love and respect for each other.
“It’s really a serious incident. These are some elders (of the synagogue) who are afraid someone might shoot up the place,” Tsiprush told The Sacramento Bee on Thursday. “Not me, I’m not afraid.”
He said the synagogue has been targeted before with hateful vandalism, including a trailer set on fire in the parking lot, a break-in that resulted in someone flooding the synagogue and someone defacing a synagogue sign and changing it “Death To Israel.”
On Oct. 5, several residents called dispatchers to report they found disturbing bags a mile southeast of Wednesday’s incident. Residents at more than 10 homes each described a plastic food storage bag with rice inside and a leaflet that had a swastika and the words “Aryan Nation,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Someone placed each of the storage bags on the front step of the homes near California Avenue and Palm Drive. Other bags were left in the Deterding Elementary playground.
Deputies canvassed the neighborhood then, as well. They interviewed residents who found the bags and found security camera video footage, but the Sheriff’s Office did not indicate whether anything relevant to the investigation was spotted in the video.
Sgt. Rodney Grassmann, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said on Thursday it was too early in the investigation to determine whether the packages found in the neighborhood are connected to the leaflets taped to the synagogue this week.
“It certainly is being looked at,” Grassmann said about possible connections between the two incidents.
Earlier this month, the FBI Sacramento Field Office launched local efforts as part of a nationwide FBI campaign to increase awareness of hate crimes and encourage victims and witnesses to report these crimes to law enforcement. A federal hate crime is a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.
Last week, Rabbi Mona Alfi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento’s Land Park neighborhood was among community and elected leaders who met with California Attorney General Rob Bonta to discuss the recent spike in hate crimes. She said it’s important to report even minor incidents so community leaders and law enforcement can continue to tailor responses and programs, preventing such behavior from escalating to hate crimes.
Detectives asked anyone with information about the Carmichael hate crime-related incidents to call the Sheriff’s Office at 916-874-8477 or at 916-874-5115. Tips can also be submitted through the Sheriff’s Office online tip form.
Victims and witnesses of hate crimes are encouraged to report the crime to the FBI by calling 800-225-5324 or submitting a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. Tips there can be submitted confidentially.