SAN DIEGO — San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo announced Thursday he is pushing for legislation that includes tougher penalties for anyone caught distributing flyers with hate speech in local communities.
Campillo is calling for the crackdown after flyers with antisemitic messages were distributed throughout historically-Jewish neighborhoods.
“I’m not going to sit by while families and children and faith leaders continuously wake up to these hate-filled and threatening images, believing that there’s nothing their city can do to protect them. We can do something and we’re going to do it,” said Campillo.
According to SDPD, over the summer there have been at least eight incidents where thousands of flyers were put on car windshields in neighborhoods like Del Cerro, San Carlos and Allied Gardens.
“They’re despicable. I actually sent these things to all of my neighbors. They were all shocked they couldn’t believe it,” said Lee Maio, a Del Cerro resident who found flyers on his street last month.
The flyers were left in the middle of the night and, so far, no one has been caught. And right now, if someone were caught, it’s an infraction and they can get a ticket.
At Temple Emanu-El in Del Cerro, local Jewish leaders and activists joined Campillo, who represents the district, and says he is now pushing for tougher penalties for those guilty of what he calls “hate littering.”
“When you’re outright lying about members of our community, you’re attacking them directly and trying to instill fear in them, we have to take the penalty higher to really send the signal that we’re not gonna take this lightly,” said Campillo.
Jewish leaders say they’re alarmed by the rise in antisemitism — and not just the flyers — pointing to the recent attack on a rabbi at a 7-Eleven near SDSU.
“History has shown us hatred spewed towards the Jewish people never stops with just words, it leads to horrific violence against the Jewish people,” said Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism.
Campillo says the new ordinance would help the city prosecute hate littering, with offenders facing up to a year in jail.
“We’re sending a signal to our Jewish community that we’re going to stand with them and., ultimately, this is not just going to stay within the Jewish community — there’s hate littering against our LGBT neighbors, against other racial groups. We’re just simply not gonna have it anymore,” said Campillo.
The councilmember said he’s working quickly to get an ordinance to the Public Safety Committee and then to the full city council for a vote, possibly by the end of the year.