Less than a month after William Scott Planer was arrested in Colorado Springs for putting an anti-Semitic sticker on the door of Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center, a second synagogue in the city, Temple Beit Torah, has been the target of hateful vandalism via Nazi graffiti. And while there's no evidence of direct linkage between the crimes, Jeremy Shaver, associate regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, says such incidents appear to be escalating in the Springs and beyond.
"We're definitely seeing an increased level of this type of activity in Colorado generally," Shaver maintains.
This past December, as we've reported, the blogspot for Rocky Mountain Antifa (slogan: "Never Give Fascists the Streets") warned about the residents of a house on the 1400 block of Ogden Street.
One line from the piece makes reference to "a neo-nazi nest of sloppy drunks who regularly harass, intimidate and sometimes attack people walking by." Planer is specifically mentioned in the item, and he also appeared on fliers that were on view throughout Capitol Hill around this period.
More recently, on the morning of June 10, a security camera captured video of two individuals affixing stickers reading "Fight Terror, Nuke Israel" to the door of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center. The clip was subsequently released to local news agencies, and the publicity was likely key to the vandalism arrest of Planer on July 14.
In its own post about this development, Denver's ADL branch provided more background on Planer's California troubles; he faces an assault-with-a-deadly-weapon beef for a June 2016 clash in Sacramento.
The ADL also noted that Planer has been associated with the Traditionalist Worker Party, attending a TWP rally in Kentucky this past April during which he wore a T-shirt with the organization's logo while repeatedly giving "the Nazi salute." He also attended an anti-Muslim March Against Sharia event in Denver, where he was captured in photos by Westword's Kyle Harris.
While the stickering of the synagogue led to Planer's arrest on a misdemeanor, he was ordered held on a $500,000 bond owing to the Sacramento charges.
That prompted supporters to create an online fundraiser, whose introduction portrays his actions in Cali as having been motivated by self-defense — a dubious assertion given video of his Sacramento actions. Nonetheless, more than $14,000 has been donated at this writing toward a goal of $50,000.
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Then, last Thursday, August 3, a swastika and other graffiti was scrawled over a sign at Temple Beit Torah. The community responded the following Sunday, August 6, with a gathering at which such exhibitions were decried, and Shaver cheers the effort.
"The rally is exactly the type of response we need," he emphasizes. "We need our communities to stand up and say, 'We will not tolerate this type of behavior. We want an open, inclusive, accepting city, and we'll stand together in opposition to this type of hate speech.'"
According to Shaver, "We have no information that would suggest targeting [of Temple Beit Torah] in retaliation for William Scott Planer's arrest." But, he adds, incidents like the last two aren't limited to Colorado Springs — "and these activities range from vandalism to harassment and beyond."