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Anti-Semitic Incidents in Colorado Continue to Climb

Denver, CO, February 27, 2018 … The number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Colorado has increased for three years in a row, including a 27 percent rise from 2016 to 2017, according to new data released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). ADL’s latest Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents also found that incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault committed against Jewish individuals and institutions have more than tripled in the state since 2015.

“Anti-Semitic incidents are real and are growing in Colorado and nationwide,” said ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott L. Levin. “The steep increase in anti-Semitic incidents has coincided with decreasing civility and rising hyper-partisanship and xenophobia in this country. Unfortunately, hate groups, white supremacists, students and others feel emboldened and are taking ugly action in public and social media. As a state and a country, we must heed the clarion call for greater understanding, respect, dialogue and education.”

The 2017 ADL Audit identified in Colorado:

  • 30 cases of harassment and threats
  • 26 cases of vandalism
  • 1 physical assault on a Jewish individual

Three specific incidents in the audit include:

  • Colorado Springs, CO.:  Temple Beit Torah was targeted with a swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti that was spray painted on its property. (August 2017)
  • Lafayette, CO.:  The apartment door of a Jewish couple was vandalized twice within two days when swastikas were carved into the door. (September 2017)
  • Fort Collins, CO.:  The words “Heil Hitler” were written on a white board outside a Jewish student’s door in a residence hall at Colorado State University during the Jewish High Holy Days. (September 2017)

Colorado is not alone in experiencing a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents. There were 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents reported across the United States in 2017, including physical assaults, vandalism, and attacks on Jewish institutions, according to the Audit. That figure represents a 57 percent increase over the 1,267 incidents in 2016. It is also the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s. Every part of the country was affected, with an incident reported in all 50 states for the first time in at least a decade. The sharp rise was in part due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.

INCIDENTS IN SCHOOLS ON RISE

Anti-Semitic incidents in K-12 schools and college campuses in 2017 nearly doubled over 2016. There were 457 anti-Semitic incidents reported in non-Jewish schools, up from 235 in 2016 and 114 in 2015. Jewish institutions and schools also saw incidents double, jumping from 170 in 2016 to 342 last year. Meanwhile, college campuses saw a total of 204 incidents in 2017, compared to 108 in 2016.

“The consistent increase of anti-Semitic incidents against students of all ages is deeply troubling,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “We know that students do not always report when they are being bullied, so for every incident that’s reported, it is likely there’s another that goes unreported. This is why it is imperative for schools to have anti-bias and anti-bullying programs, and why we are committing to take our No Place for Hate campaign into more schools this year.” 

HOW ADL IS RESPONDING

ADL has a comprehensive approach to address anti-Semitic incidents and behavior, including educating youth to prevent these behaviors and working with law enforcement to apprehend the perpetrators. ADL trains 15,000 law enforcement officials per year, provides anti-bias training widely, including to every new FBI agent, and reaches 1.5 million kids in schools with our anti-bias and anti-bullying training.

“In the last year, ADL is proud to have reached about 60,000 students in nearly 60 schools from Durango to Fort Collins through its No Place for Hate campaign and hundreds more through it Words to Action initiative that empowers high school and college students to respond to anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias on campus,” said Levin. Additionally, he notes, “In Colorado, ADL has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers to recognize, investigate and prosecute hate crimes.”

“We make government leaders and the public aware of anti-Semitism so we can counter it together,” added Greenblatt. “Anti-Semitism may be the oldest hatred, but it is deeply felt today and we will never give up on our important work to ensure our communities are safe for each and every one.”

Nationally, ADL has recently announced expansions in its work to counter cyber hate with a new center in Silicon Valley in recognition of the close connection between the rise in hate online and the rise of hate incidents in our communities.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

In response to the historic rise in anti-Semitic incidents, ADL is sharing the following policy recommendations with members of Congress and other government leaders:

  • Congress should pass legislation to expand federal protections against bomb threats to religious institutions. The House of Representatives approved this legislation, HR 1730, in December.  The Senate must now act and send the measure to the President to sign.
  • Public officials and law enforcement authorities must use their bully pulpit to speak out against anti-Semitic incidents – and all acts of hate.  These officials must support efforts to punish this conduct to the fullest extent of the law, while providing comfort and assistance to individual victims and community members.
  • Victims and bystanders should report all anti-Semitic incidents and vandalism to the Anti-Defamation League and to local police. If we expect law enforcement officials and community members to take these incidents seriously, we must take them seriously – and report them, both to ADL and to the police.
  • College and university administrators, faculty, and staff must receive the necessary training to effectively respond to anti-Semitic incidents, hate crimes, hate speech and extremism on campus.  Campus officials have a moral obligation to speak out against hate.  Colleges and universities must build an institution for learning that works toward inclusion and equity while also ensuring open expression and a marketplace for ideas.

The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs. Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement, and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the Audit provides a regular snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.  Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias curricula for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all. 

Follow us on Twitter: @ADLDenver

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