When Terry Carhart found an anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ flyer in his Highlands Ranch yard on March 4, he was disgusted.
The flyer was in a small plastic baggie weighed down with dry beans and, by Carhart’s observation, had been scattered in several yards in his neighborhood near Fox Creek Elementary School.
“I have an issue with someone who thinks that way driving around, passing out literature in my area,” Carhart, 64, said. “It’s nonsensical.”
Carhart felt compelled to report the flyers to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Anti-Defamation League because he has Jewish neighbors and worried about the messaging leading to harm.
The flyers Carhart found were just some of the anti-Semitic propaganda found in Front Range areas so far this month, with more flyers found in the Terrain neighborhood in Castle Rock on March 7.
Castle Rock Mayor Jason Gray, whose grandfather died in a concentration camp during the Holocaust, spoke out against the messaging at the March 7 town council meeting, calling it “disheartening” and encouraging the council and town residents to speak out against it and report it.
“It’s not what Castle Rock is about,” Gray said. “This kind of rhetoric makes my blood boil.”
A report from the Anti-Defamation League released on March 8 found that 2022 had over 6,750 instances of white supremacist propaganda reported, the highest number of instances the organization has recorded.
Scott Levin, the director for the Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region, said Colorado had 163 instances of white supremacist propaganda last year compared to 159 in 2021.
Levin said a concern with the increasing propaganda is that it will lead to the normalization of hate, which can lead to violence.
“The problem is that they do normalize this kind of hate and anger in a way that it might become criminal activity,” he said. “It only takes one person to react to this, think some of it may be true, and act on it.”
The propaganda also serves to recruit people to white supremacist groups and helps those groups make money by connecting people to their websites and media, Levin said.
The flyers Carhart found in Highlands Ranch linked to a website featuring Holocaust denial and streaming an anti-Semitic film, which the Anti-Defamation League report found is often associated with the white supremacist group White Lives Matter.
Levin said the best response to finding propaganda is to loudly rebuke it so that the messaging doesn’t become normalized. He added that reporting instances of propaganda to law enforcement and the Anti-Defamation League helps track the issue.
“Neighbors need to speak out and say ‘This stuff isn’t acceptable’ and they need to give support to those groups that are targeted,” he said.