On the first day of Passover, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett, and local faith and civil leaders condemned antisemitic flyers that have recently been distributed on the doorsteps and streets of New Haven and Hamden. Eddy Martinez / Connecticut Public

The mayors of New Haven and Hamden came together Wednesday to speak out against the distribution of antisemitic flyers in those communities.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett gathered with residents and community leaders on the New Haven Green to discuss how the municipalities are the latest in Connecticut targeted by antisemitic and racist propaganda.

The flyers appear to be distributed by the same group that committed a similar act in Stamford in March.

Paul Wessel, who lives in New Haven, attended the event to speak out against hate after discovering a flyer.

“A couple days ago, I walked out in front of my house and found what I thought was some garbage, a plastic bag. And it turned out to be the flyer that we’ve all been talking about,” Wessel said.

The flyer made references to a belief long disproven by professional historians, that Jews predominately made up the population of those who owned enslaved people in the United States.

The flyers were discovered after the Anti-Defamation League recently announced antisemitic acts doubled statewide in 2022.

New Haven Assistant Police Chief Bertram Ettienne said the flyers found across the city were packaged the same way.

“They were in various locations throughout the city in New Haven. One of the bags was in a clear plastic Ziploc bag with three rocks in it with the letters inside the bag,” Ettienne said.

The description closely matches flyers found in Stamford. Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons’ Special Assistant Lauren Meyer confirmed the flyers have the same contact information.

“The email on the flyer matches the flyers that were distributed in Stamford, though the flyer content is different,” Meyer said.

Elicker says most of the flyers were found in Hamden, and two were found in New Haven. Garrett said the flyers are meant to frighten people and called on residents to report any similar flyers to the police.

Garrett said whoever did this is a coward.

“It is hurtful to people to walk out of their door and see this kind of crap in front of their door in front of their house, and to not know where it came from, to not know the coward who does stuff like this,” Garrett said.

Residents from New Haven and Hamden banded together to condemn bigotry.
Several religious leaders from different denominations spoke out.

Rabbi Brian Immerman, with the Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, said a Jewish resident found a flyer and called him after calling the police and the Anti-Defamation League. The woman said she didn’t know why she called him.

But Immerman said he knew why.

“She needed me to tell her that she is not alone,” he said. “And she’s not alone.”

This story was originally published April 5, 2023, by Connecticut Public.