Raul Campillo
Raul Campillo speaks at the press conference announcing his plans for a new ordinance addressing hate crime littering. Photo by Chris Jennewein

City Councilmember Raul Campillo announced Thursday he will introduce an ordinance to make the distribution of flyers inciting hate a misdemeanor littering offense punishable by up to a year in jail.

San Diego Police have recorded eight incidents over the past several months involving thousands of antisemitic flyers distributed at homes in Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, La Jolla, La Mesa and other neighborhoods.

“We can do something and we’re going to do it,” said Campillo, who said the “cowards” who distribute the flyers at night “will come for all of us eventually if nothing is done.”

The former prosecutor spoke at a press conference outside Temple Emanu-El in Del Cerro, flanked by police officers, leaders of the Jewish community as well as Episcopalian and Lutheran clergy.

He said it will take three to four months to draft an ordinance that is constitutional, noting that hate speech is protected the First Amendment, but crimes involving hate are not, and a hate component can result in a heavier sentence.

Heidi Gantwerk, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego, said the rise in antisemitism in recent years has been “nothing short of alarming,” requiring local Jewish organizations to spend millions of dollars on security.

She said the hate has been directed not just at Jews, but other minority communities in San Diego. “We know all too well that we are not the sole target,” she said.

But she also expressed optimism, thanking local law enforcement for their increased attention to antisemitism, and noting that “Jewish life is flourishing here in San Diego.”

Temple Emanu-El’s rabbi, Devorah Marcus, echoed that sentiment. She cited an old Jewish saying that “this too will be for goodness,” noting the flyers have prompted attention from elected officials and created new community relationships.

Officials have urged anyone who finds a hate-crime flyer to take a photo, record when it was found, check for security video and contact police or San Diego County Crime Stoppers.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.