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Denver’s Anti-Defamation League sees spike in hate crimes this year

DENVER -- Just days after the horrific mass shooting inside a Pittsburgh Synagogue, Colorado is reporting new numbers as our state sees an uptick in hate crimes.

The anti-defamation league in Denver said since the beginning of this year, they have seen 50 incidents of white supremacist propaganda popping up in the Denver Metro. They say it’s a troubling trend.

A gunman burst into a Pittsburgh Synagogue and opened fire on Saturday, killing eleven people and injuring six others.

“I was sitting here shocked not knowing what to make out of it,” Rabbi Benjy Brackman of Chabad of NW Metro Denver said.

Rabbi Brackman is no stranger to anti-Semitic violence. Just last year his synagogue in Westminster was the target of hate, as a disturbing message was discovered on a near-by trail.

“This had the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” which is the words that Jews saw when they came into the concentration camps,” Rabbi Brackman said.

A Swastika and the words “work sets you free” were spray-painted on a bridge over the Big Dry Creek Trail. That same message was displayed across the entrance to Concentration Camps.

“Those words are very much part of all the horrors that took place at Auschwitz,” Rabbi Brackman said.

Shortly after the graffiti was discovered, a couple donated a scroll to the Chabad Synagogue. The hand written Torah was commissioned in memory of the Holocaust survivors.

Just in the last few months, a political sign near Breckenridge was vandalized with Swastikas there was a racial slur scrawled across a Denver coffee shop, owned by an Ethiopian woman, https://kdvr.com/2018/05/30/racial-slur-scrawled-on-popular-denver-coffee-shop/ and white supremacist posters were plastered outside an openly gay, Jewish man’s barber shop. https://kdvr.com/2018/07/17/white-supremacist-propaganda-appearing-in-denver-metro-neighborhoods/

“I saw it right a way. I recognized their logo,” Jordan Weinstein, owner of Proper Barber Shop said. “I was filled with rage. Yeah, those people hate me.”

The Problem Solves discovered Denver’s Anti-Defamation League has seen a significant spike in white supremacist propaganda infiltrating metro neighborhoods.

“Up until 2018, we only saw one incident in 2016 and one incident in 2017 – and now this year we’re over 50,”Jeremy Shaver, Senior Associate Director for the ADL Mountain Region said.

The League uses analysts to comb social media sites, as well as public self-reports and media reports to compile their statistics. They believe the increase in hate crimes is result of the divisive political climate in our country.

“What we’re seeing now is folks who maybe hold extremist viewpoints are no longer just holding those viewpoints, they’re actually taking action and becoming public with it – public on line, in rallies, public in taking action and causing real harm to others,” Shaver said.

For those on the receiving end – they refuse to be intimidated by the hate. In fact, Rabbi Brackman said he will continue to stand up against it.

“We practice our faith as do many others very freely – and that’s been a staple of this country. Freedom to practice religion and I think that will continue. This is a hump in the road,” Rabbi Brackman said.

Boulder County is hosting a panel discussion called “Fighting Hate in Our Communities” on Monday, October 29 at 5:30 p.m. The DA’s Office is launching a Bias and Hate Crimes Initiative to raise community awareness. http://tinyurl.com/BoulderCoAntiBias

If you have experienced a hate crime or incident call 911 or the Boulder County DA’s Bias hotline for non-emergency reporting 303-441-1595.

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