WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office announced it would be stepping up patrols around all synagogues after an area Jewish synagogue reported that a white supremacist/Neo-Nazi group glued a propaganda poster to its main building earlier this week.
WCSO took a report from a Jewish synagogue of a white supremacist/ Neo-Nazi group who glued a propaganda poster on their main building. Let it be known that we have stepped up patrol for all synagogues.— Williamson County Sheriff Chody (@SheriffChody) March 26, 2019
This comes less than two weeks after a shooter stormed two mosques in New Zealand, killing 50 people.
Now the synagogue in Cedar Cark is being vigilant in light of the hateful message.
“Shir Ami” — in Hebrew, it means “our song.”
But one day after a hate-fueled poster was discovered on a sign outside Congregation Shir Ami, the sanctuary has fallen silent.
“It’s a hate group, it appears to be a neo-Nazi, neo-fascist, white supremacist group,” said Sid Sokol, the President of the Board of Trustees for Congregation Shir Ami.
But the congregation won’t be stifled for long.
“I think the best thing we can do is to unify as a congregation, take precautions and let law enforcement do their job.”
The Williamson County Sheriff has increased its patrols and the congregation is on high alert.
“We do have a security director and we have contracted security for all of our events to have security on premises,” Sokol said.
“It doesn’t matter where you worship, we are there to protect them,” said Lt. Chanse Thomas with the Cedar Park Police.
While it’s a Williamson County investigation, nearby Cedar Park Police are also taking steps to protect their community.
“Anytime there has been a major incident, we proactively reached out to our different faiths to make sure they feel safe and comfortable,” said Lt. Thomas.
CPPD practices active-shooter scenarios with congregations in central Texas. Whether it’s a synagogue, mosque or church, Cedar Park officers say it’s their job to protect everyone, no matter their belief.
“They want to be able to practice their faith safely and feel comfortable and our job is to put them at ease,” said Lt. Thomas.
Leaders at congregation Shir Ami have requested we not name the white-supremacist group that was on the poster near the sanctuary. The congregation wants to keep these types of groups from getting any sort of notoriety.
Facebook bans hate groups
That’s also a new Facebook goal. The social network is extending its ban on white supremacy, to include all “praise, support, and representation of white nationalism and separatism”. Users who search for related terms will be directed to organizations aimed at helping people leave hate groups.
Tracking hate in Texas
The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate groups in the US. The organization says there were 1,020 hate groups last year, a new record.
SPLC finds these groups aren’t just targeting college campuses. They are often disseminating flyers and hanging banners in public places.
Their research shows Texas has the third-most hate groups in the country. Those can be related to White Nationalism, Black Nationalism, Anti-Government, Anti-Immigrant and more. Texas is behind only California and Florida.