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Racist flyer in West Hartford prompts Blumenthal to advocate for money from No Hate Act

Texas Synagogue Holds Healing Service After Recent Hostage Situation At Synagogue
Emil Lippe
Getty Images North America
A message offers support at Pleasant Run Baptist Church on Jan. 17, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas, after a 44-year-old British national stormed into the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville with a gun and held four people hostage for more than 10 hours.

Connecticut’s Hate Crime Advisory Council launched last summer and is working to increase awareness and reporting, as well as make recommendations for state legislation.

One report that came from West Hartford involved residents finding a flyer distributed in a neighborhood last month that promoted nationalist and white power ideas. It read: “We stand for the security and prosperity of white New Englanders.”

That prompted U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal to remind municipalities that they can apply for funding to combat hate crimes. Speaking at a news conference in West Hartford Monday, Blumenthal discussed the No Hate Act, which was passed last year along with the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act helps fund state-run hate crime hotlines and create programs to reduce hate crimes. States can apply for some of the $26 million in grant funding. Blumenthal said hate crimes are chronically underreported, and he hopes this act can help counter that.

Antisemitic incidents increased 42% in 2021 compared to the year prior, according to the Connecticut chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL tracks incidents of hate in the state and nationally. Incidents in the state last year included graffiti of swastikas and a bomb threat called into a Jewish Community Center in New Haven.

Last year, antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the U.S. — the national ADL tracked 2,717 antisemitic incidents, the most in its over 40-year history. New York and New Jersey saw the highest number of incidents nationwide.

West Hartford Police Chief Vernon Riddick Jr. said distributing the flyer itself is not a hate crime. The ADL says it qualifies as a hate incident.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.