Law Enforcement

"We Are Coming for You": Anti-Semitic Incidents in Colorado Spike

A censored image of anti-Semitic graffiti in Bailey circa 2019.
A censored image of anti-Semitic graffiti in Bailey circa 2019. CBS4 Denver via Mountain States Anti-Defamation League
The caller to a Colorado synagogue had a chilling message: "Watch your back. We are coming for you. All of you. You and everyone in the building. The Zionists and the Jews."

This incident was far from isolated. A new report from the Anti-Defamation League on anti-Semitism in the United States in 2021 lists 92 such episodes in Colorado, among 2,717 nationwide: 66 classified as harassment and 25 considered vandalism, as well as assault considered a hate crime. That was one of eleven such assaults across the country last year: three in New York, two in California, and one each in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado.

The statistics show that incidents targeting Jews in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming jumped 49 percent year over year, hitting a level not seen for more than a decade in the region. The rise far outpaced the national increase, estimated at 34 percent from 2020 to 2021.

Of the hundred anti-Semitic incidents that the ADL counted in this region last year, New Mexico experienced six (one assault, three cases of harassment and two instances of vandalism), and Wyoming suffered two (both vandalism). The rest took place in Colorado, which finished eighth in the United States for anti-Semitic acts despite having the country's 21st-largest population.

Here's a look at Colorado's numbers in the three major categories since 2018:
Harassment
2018: 28
2019: 42
2020: 43
2021: 66

Vandalism
2018: 11
2019: 19
2020: 15
2021: 25

Assault
2018: 0
2019: 0
2020: 2
2021: 1

Total
2018: 29
2019: 61
2020: 60
2021: 92
The ADL offers the following descriptions of four anti-Semitic occurrences in Colorado last year: A Jewish family was harassed at a cemetery during the burial service for a family member by a man who drove by and yelled, "Heil Hitler"; a Jewish resident’s mezuzah on her apartment door was vandalized; a synagogue's virtual Purim service, livestreamed to Facebook and YouTube via Zoom, was met with anti-Semitic and threatening messages in the live chat section on YouTube; and a Jewish individual received a harassing voicemail at their place of business from a caller who blamed Jews for the pandemic-related shutdowns and called Jews "fucking losers."

This year got off to a bad start, too. In January, the Mountain States Anti-Defamation League, which serves Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, sounded alarms about offensive fliers that appeared on front lawns and walkways of residences in several metro locations. Stuffed inside plastic bags weighed down with rice or rocks, the handouts included a photo of three Caucasian females of various ages along with the slogans "Your Blood Is Sacred" and "Save Your Race." Elsewhere, the line "Every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish" appeared over a list of executives at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others from Jewish backgrounds.

Regarding those fliers, Mountain States ADL director Scott Levin told Westword: "Things like this are reminders to us that anti-Semitism exists and that we're living in an era where it's at its highest levels."

The latest data certainly bears out this statement. Click to read the complete ADL audit of anti-Semitic incidents in 2021.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts