SARASOTA, Fla. — On Friday morning, there was a disturbing discovery in a Sarasota County neighborhood. Several people in Cherokee Park told police they found brown paper bags with antisemitic flyers inside.
Detailed in the police report, one paper said, "every aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish."
Shep Englander, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee said, "It feels like an invasion. It feels like a malicious and willful attack on someone's identity, and it feels very unamerican."
He says the incident has shaken his community, describing the moment he learned of the incident: "Our security director called me and told me he'd received several messages from people in our community that were shocked and disgusted by this."
Police are still investigating, but say this was actually a widespread event not limited to Sarasota.
Sarasota police spokesperson Genevieve Judge says, "We learned that not only did it happen in the city of Sarasota, but it also happened in Sarasota County, as well as neighboring jurisdictions. And, come to find out we have intelligence that has taught us that this has happened statewide."
Around a month ago, similar materials were distributed in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.
"If folks have information or if they saw something suspicious, or noticed something suspicious or unusual on their home security camera, give Sarasota police or law enforcement in their jurisdiction a call," Judge said.
Meanwhile, Englander said this hate will only serve to make his community more resilient.
"It never gets less disgusting and never becomes tolerable, but we always pull together, as we have for hundreds of years," Englander said.