Police urge Jewish, other religious communities to be vigilant this weekend as neo-Nazi group declares ‘day of hate’

“At this time, there is no actionable intelligence,” according to the Chicago Police Department. “We continue to actively monitor the situation.”

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Anti-Defamation League

Chicago police are urging Jewish and other religious communities to be extra vigilant this weekend when a neo-Nazi group has declared a “day of hate.”

“At this time, there is no actionable intelligence,” the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. “We continue to actively monitor the situation.”

Last month, a small antisemitic group based in eastern Iowa designated Feb. 25 as a “day of hate,” and other white supremacist and hate groups have since said they plan to participate, according to David Goldenberg, the Midwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

“Our network of analysts at ADL’s Center on Extremism are carefully monitoring online platforms, chat rooms and a whole bunch of other things, and we’ll alert appropriate authorities if we see anything that we think needs to be elevated,” Goldenberg said.

The Chicago Police Department said in a statement that it is “in contact with members, leaders and organizations within the Jewish community and all faith-based communities in Chicago, and will continue working closely with them to strengthen communication and safety.”

Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th), whose ward covers a large portion of the city’s Jewish community on the North Side, said the police “will be paying special attention to all synagogues and Jewish institutions.”

“Families across our community should feel reassured that they are protected from those that wish us harm,” she said in a statement to the Sun-Times.

The online messages by hate groups prompted the police department’s 24th District Place of Worship Safety Advisory Team to issue a community alert this week.

“This anti-Semitic proposed event has instructed like-minded individuals to drop banners, place stickers and flyers, and vandalize by way of graffiti as forms of biased so-called activism,” the CPD alert said. “These organizers request that potential actions be recorded and/or photographed to submit online.”

Goldenberg said there has been an increase in the last few years in white supremacist and extremist networks popularizing “dedicated days of action.” He said it’s not uncommon for those groups to document and publicize actions taken on such days.

When extremist groups “collect this type of footage, they use it for recruitment purposes, they use it to create this sort of inflated sense of participation to suggest there’s a wider acceptance of antisemitism and white supremacy, when in reality, actual participation in these types of events is incredibly small,” Goldenberg said.

The national “day of hate” designation comes as antisemitic hate has risen to historic levels in Illinois and across the country.

Across Chicago, hate crimes reached an 11-year high last year, according to police data. In 2022, 38 of the 202 total reported hate crimes were against Jewish people, ranking antisemitic hate crimes second behind anti-Black hate crimes.

The ADL’s Midwest branch network works with 70 plus anti-hate organizations — not just Jewish organizations. Goldenberg said the organization encourages people to not interfere with or “get in the middle” of protests.

The “best approach” is to “stay away” and notify law enforcement, he said, but when possible, the ADL supports the idea of countering misinformation with truth.

“It always holds true that when you encounter this type of hate — the antisemitism and extremism and vitriol — we always encourage people to speak out against it,” he said, “to respond to their misinformation and lies with facts, and to show strength when communities are attacked.”

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