AUSTIN (KXAN) — Antisemitic and racist stickers and flyers were found at Ramsey Park in central Austin Tuesday morning, according to several people who reached out to KXAN’s ReportIt. Photos of the stickers and flyers show the hateful messaging was plastered on the playground and put on cars surrounding the park.
“It’s hateful, it’s awful and unfortunately it’s the latest in a long string of antisemitic incidents that we’ve seen here in Central Texas,” Sharyn Vane, cofounder of ATXKind, said. “As a Jewish person and just as a person who lives in Austin, in Central Texas, I don’t want to see this in my community.”
A link and a name of an organization was seen on some of the stickers and flyers. KXAN has chosen not to name the group, but ADL says it’s a white supremist group founded in the 1980s. Renee Lafair, regional director of ADL Austin, says they believe the group to be very small.
Austin has seen a number of instances where antisemitic and hateful messaging was used over the past month. Anti-Defamation League Austin says this event appears to be unrelated to some of the other instances we’ve seen.
“I consulted with our center for extremism about this, and they’re feeling is that we’re unlucky in that we just seem to having had in this last month, a series of events that are seemingly unrelated but have all happened at the same time,” Lafair said.
Still, preliminary ADL data shows more reports of hateful messaging and crimes in Austin this year than years prior. Those numbers are not finalized yet.
“Our numbers have gone up this year, and it has a lot to do with what’s happened in the last month,” Lafair said.
Ramsey Park is less than a mile from Congregation Beth Israel, which the Austin Fire Department says was intentionally set on fire Halloween night. Austin investigators are still looking for the suspect who they say started the fire using an accelerant.
The fire at the synagogue happened just a few days after antisemitic banners were seen hanging from a busy Austin overpass. The week before that, hateful messages were found painted on parking spots at Anderson High School.
As a result of recent events, city and county leaders are working to make sure acts of hate don’t happen in Austin moving forward.
“What we’re seeing is a pattern now, we can’t scapegoat it and say it’s a bunch of people from outside of Austin that are coming into our community and trying to sew hate,” Councilmember Alison Alter of District 10 said.
Austin City Council passed a resolution last week, sponsored by Alter, that directs the city manager to improve the city’s response to acts of hate. It also directs the city to brief city council on the current protocols and legal options when dealing with acts of hate.
“What that means is looking at peer cities, unfortunately hate is not unique to Austin, and we can learn from what other cities like Charlottesville have done in response to hate and take some of those practices and use them here in Austin,” Alter said. She also said the city needs to be making more connections with the groups and communities impacted most.
Travis County also passed a resolution in support of the Jewish community and asked residents to call out hateful messaging and acts when they see it.
Want to help?
In response to recent acts of hate and antisemitism, ATXKind is holding a rally for kindness at the Texas Capitol Sunday, Nov. 14 from 2 to 4 p.m. Central Texas organizations, lawmakers and faith-based groups will be there to speak and offer next steps for people looking to get involved.
“What we want folks to come away with is ‘here are organizations I can connect with where I can continue this work,'” Vane said.
Shalom Austin, ADL and Interfaith Action Texas are some of the groups expected to attend Saturday’s event.
“We’re a group of Jewish women who said we have had enough, this is not the world we want to live in and we know that our community is better than this,” Vane said.
If you see hateful messaging, ADL asks that you take a photo of it, report it to 3-1-1 and the Anti-Defamation League’s website, then tear it down.
ADL also asks that people are careful about posting details and photos online and on social media.
“Some of these groups, they want the attention, they want the social media, so we ask people to think strategically about how they handle the information,” Lafair said.