Jewish Chico State Professor’s Yard Among Those Strewn With Antisemitic Fliers; North State Hate Speech Incidents Rise

The day before neighborhoods in Chico were littered with fliers that contained hate speech, a man living in the hills above the small college town shared a picture on social media of piles of nearly 30 different fliers – the same ones strewn throughout Chico neighborhoods.

Several reports of hate speech fliers in the Redding area

Meanwhile, two Redding neighborhoods were blanketed with Goyim Defense League fliers that contained hate speech in July of 2022, and as recently as February. In April, dozens of GDL fliers were left in the front yards of a neighborhood just off Interstate 5 in Anderson. The Redding Police Department and the Anderson Police Department investigated the distribution of the fliers as hate incidents.

More than 100 Goyim Defense League fliers were distributed throughout the Country Heights subdivision in Redding in February. Photo credit: Redding Police Department

Goyim Defense League fliers were distributed throughout the Stingy Lane area in Anderson in April. Photo source: Anderson Police Department

A News Café spoke with Sgt. Gary Meadows of the RPD about the rise in instances of hate-speech propaganda distribution. Meadows said fliers that contain hate speech have been discovered in different Redding neighborhoods on several occasions during the last few months.

Although Meadows knows there’s a difference between fliers that contain hate speech and those that do not, he compared the distribution of unsolicited hate-speech fliers to the distribution of unsolicited fliers from companies that offer landscaping, or churches promoting their services.

Meadows said that generally speaking, the most stringent consequence for those caught distributing hate-speech fliers would be to face a littering charge. Meadows also told A News Café it is possible that Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett the DA would not be interested in pursuing a case if someone was caught randomly distributing fliers with hate speech.

In a statement provided to A News Café by Briona Haney, Bridgett’s Community Education Specialist, Bridgett said, “My office takes these types of incidents very seriously. There is no place for any type of hate in Shasta County.”

Bridgett added that she wants everyone to feel safe and welcome in the North State community.

When asked if there are an any scenarios in which a hate incident case regarding the random distribution of antisemitic literature would result in the pursuing of charges, and if so, to identify those potential charges, Haney said the DA’s office would not comment on hypothetical questions.

From information obtained through a public records request, A News Café found only one instance in which the distribution of antisemitic literature was investigated by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office in the last several months. The literature was distributed in the Shasta Lake City neighborhood last August. In the incident report, Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Nathan Baker said that while the fliers were offensive, “no criminal laws were violated”.

Screenshot of Shasta County Sheriff’s Office incident report regarding the distribution of Goyim Defense League fliers in Shasta Lake City. Source: Shasta County Sheriff’s Office

California’s lax hate-speech enforcement

Typically, the distribution of the antisemitic and hate-speech propaganda consists of paper fliers placed in the front yards or driveways of homes throughout targeted neighborhoods. The fliers are often found inside plastic zip-top baggies weighted down with pebbles or other materials, such as bird seed.

According to California state law, if law enforcement officials do not determine that a person or group was targeted during the distribution of fliers that contain hate speech, it is considered a hate incident, meaning it does not rise to the level of a hate crime. In a few recent instances across the U.S., individuals caught distributing hate speech propaganda in the front yards of homes were simply charged with littering violations.

The Goyim Defense League

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Goyim Defense League is responsible for more than tripling instances of the distribution of hate speech propaganda across the U.S. in the last few years. The GDL is a white supremacist, neo-Nazi, antisemitic, and anti-LGBTQ hate group. It was founded by internet troll Jon Minadeo II in Petaluma, Calif., in 2018, but is now based in Florida. The GDL has an online archive of fliers, and encourages its supporters to get involved by distributing the fliers.

The 40-year-old Minadeo III, who still operates GDL, is supported by a loose network of online followers who print and distribute his fliers (GDL also sells printed fliers). Minadeo II also operates GoyimTV, a social media platform he uses to push his antisemitic, white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and anti-LGBTQ views.

In his “Handsome Truth” show on GoyimTV, Minadeo II visits online video chat rooms and viciously attacks people with extreme racist slurs while giving the Nazi salute. Minadeo II’s followers tune in and watch live and leave comments in a chat room. When he encounters children in video chat rooms, Minadeo II attempts to groom them to adopt his views. Minadeo II also plays amateur video footage of people tossing GDL fliers from their cars submitted to the show.

Chico in the GDL crosshairs

Some Chico neighborhoods have also been targeted by individuals distributing fliers with antisemitic, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi hate speech. In February, GDL fliers were found in the front yards of homes in the neighborhood just north of Chico State known as The Avenues. Fliers were also found in other Chico neighborhoods in February.

In a case report provided to one Chico resident who lived in a neighborhood blanketed with GDL fliers in February, Chico Police Department’s Public Information Officer Kelly DeLeon said the CPD  had not identified a person of interest. DeLeon also said it appeared that the distribution of the fliers was a “general distribution of hate material, and not a direct effort against any specific person”.

In March, a variety of GDL fliers were found distributed in three different east Chico neighborhoods.

Like the RDP, the CPD investigated the distribution of the fliers in February and March as hate incidents. DeLeon told A News Café that CPD dispatchers received calls for antisemitic literature on five separate days since the beginning of 2023 alone.

DeLeon also said it’s possible that the number of instances of hate-speech propaganda distribution is higher than reported to the CPD by Chico residents; something that is likely the case in other targeted North State neighborhoods.

DeLeon encouraged anyone who finds fliers with hate speech to report them to the CPD.

Goyim Defense League fliers were distributed in a Chico neighborhood last February. Source: Homeowner who had a flier placed in his yard.

Chico is the most recent city in the North State to be hit with GDL fliers. The fliers were distributed throughout a neighborhood near One Mile Recreation Area last April.

Grandson of Holocaust survivors finds antisemitic fliers outside home

On April 29, Eran Zelnik walked outside to the front yard of his Chico home to mow his yard. The 43-year-old Zelnik noticed a clear plastic bag weighted with pebbles. Inside the bag was a colorful paper flier. When Zelnik picked the bag up to examine it, he found it contained a GDL flier.

It turned out that in the early morning hours of that day, antisemitic, white supremacist and neo-Nazi GDL fliers had been left in the front yards of several homes in Zelnik’s neighborhood.

Goyim Defense League fliers were placed in Eran Zelnik’s yard. Source: Eran Zelnik

Zelnik’s neighbor received a different GDL flier than what was left in his yard. One side of the flier his neighbor received said, “Diversity means fewer white people, inclusion means exclusion of white people,” and, “Equity means stealing from white people.”

The other side of the flier contained a picture of Hitler with the words, “Hitler was right”.

Goyim Defense League flier was placed in Zelnik’s neighbor’s yard.

Zelnik holds a Ph.D. in history and teaches courses in the Department of History at Chico State. (Full disclosure: Zelnik and I are colleagues in CSU’s Department of History.)

“As a Jewish person who at times has put up Jewish symbols at my house for Hanukkah, I wondered if someone saw that and wanted to make me feel unsafe in the neighborhood,” said Zelnik, who was born in Israel.

Grandparents on both sides of Zelnik’s family survived the Holocaust. One of his grandmothers survived the Auschwitz concentration camp as a child.

Eran Zelnik at the CSU, Chico State University campus. Photo by Shawn Schwaller.

‘It hit a deep vein of trauma’

“Holding a piece of vile antisemitic propaganda was a bit of a shock,” Zelnik said. “It hits you different when it’s at your own house, and you find it yourself. As someone whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, and who grew up hearing stories of Kristallnacht, and of surviving ghettos and Auschwitz, it hit a deep vein of trauma”.

Zelnik reported the GDL flier to the Chico Police Department. Zelnik said that the CPD non-emergency staff person with whom he spoke said the fliers like the ones Zelnik found in his yard had also been distributed elsewhere in Chico the same day.

Zelnik asked the CPD employee if it made any difference that he’s Jewish. The CPD staff person responded by asking Zelnik if the flier targeted him in any way. Zelnik answered that he did not see anything that would lead him to think the flier targeted him. The CPD staff person then told Zelnik to throw the flier away.

Emboldened by Trump

Zelnik believes that white supremacists are among those emboldened by former President Donald Trump.

“They think it’s time to come out of the woodwork and organize a robust white supremacist movement,” Zelnik said.

Facts support Zelnik’s belief about Trump’s part in helping escalate and normalize hate speech. The GDL, the Proud Boys, and white supremacist “Active Clubs” have all increased their activism in recent months. Last March, the Proud Boys showed up in force to watch Turning Point U.S.A. founder Charlie Kirk speak at UC Davis, where they also fought with protesters. A few weeks ago, neo-Nazi followers of the GDL were chased out of a Sacramento City Council meeting.

Zelnik also believes that individuals who distribute hate speech propaganda may do so as a last-ditch effort to stop the end of white domination.

“When you are so used to privilege its loss feels like oppression,” Zelnik said.

Meanwhile, in Cohasset

The day before fliers were left in front of Zelnik’s home and others throughout his neighborhood, Christopher Acret tweeted a picture of piles of nearly 30 different GDL fliers on a large desk. The photo showed clear plastic green zip-topped bags upon the same desk near the same computer depicted in other pictures Acret has shared on social media from what appears to be his residence.

Stacks of 30 different Goyim Defense League fliers shared in a photo on Twitter by Cohasset resident Christopher Acret.

Photographs of himself that Christopher Acret used on Facebook and Twitter.

According to online sources, Acret is 37 years old and lives in Cohasset, a predominantly white, unincorporated small mountain community 17 miles northeast of Chico.

According to his Facebook profile, Acret attended Pleasant Valley High and Butte College. Acret goes by @ThePistilPacker on Twitter and Chris Ac on Facebook. Acret formerly used his real name on his Facebook page, which has an extensive collection of publicly viewable content.

In Acret’s tweet with the picture of the fliers, he wrote, “the only diversity I support”.

Two of the fliers distributed in Zelnik’s neighborhood and other Chico neighborhoods in recent months were included among stacks of fliers photographed by Acret in his residence. On May 15 Acret removed from Twitter the picture he’d previously posted of his desk covered with GDL fliers.

Acret’s social media pages are full of antisemitic, white supremacist, and anti-LGBTQ content. Acret has shared several GDL fliers on his Twitter page. On May 15, Acret changed his Twitter profile picture from the same picture of himself he used as his profile picture on Facebook, to a picture of a nonwhite male. Acret’s Twitter profile picture is now a racist cartoon of a Jewish rabbi with lizard skin.

Photographs shared on social media by Christopher Acret show the same desk and computer mouse (and what appears to be a handgun) as appeared in the picture Acret shared of the Goyim Defense League fliers.

Left: Christopher Acret applauds the distribution of antisemitic and neo-Nazi fliers; Top Right: Acret attacks a Jewish person on Twitter; Bottom Right: Acret Tweets a Goyim Defense League flier.

‘ … Bones in their noses’

In a recent tweet, Acret referred to African Americans as “chimps”. Acret has repeatedly tweeted statements saying that African Americans should, “go back to Africa” and, “they belong in Africa with bones in their noses”.

In another tweet, Acret called for the separation of whites and African Americans. In yet another post, Acret said racial segregation “was a good thing”.

‘Rodney King his ass’

Acret has applauded on social media violence against African Americans. In a tweet that included a video of a white man beating up a black man, Acret wrote, “Beat his ass all the way back to Africa”.

Under a video of a white law enforcement officer attempting an arrest on an African American man, Acret wrote “Rodney King his ass”. Acret was referring to Rodney King, the African American motorist beaten by LAPD officers in 1991.

In December of 2022, Acret tweeted, “White people need to start loving our white children the same way blacks loved George Floyd”.

Racist comments written by Christopher Acret on his Twitter page.

Acret has also applauded on social media violent attacks on members of the LGBTQ community. In March, Acret tweeted,  “transgenders belong in mental asylums or labor camps”. He recently tweeted that any parent “raising their children as gender neutral or the opposite sex” should have their children removed.

On May 16, Acret tweeted that homosexuals should not be able to adopt children.

“You’re endangering children by giving them to people with high rates of rape,” he wrote. In the same tweet, Acret said, “1/3 of gay men are predators” and “33% of them have had sex with underage men”.

Anti-LGBTQ and transphobic comments written by Christopher Acret on Twitter.

“Stand up for yourself, white people”

Acret’s activity on social media also highlights his support for a white supremacist brand of Western chauvinism. “White people build civilizations” and “your people destroy civilizations,” wrote Acret on Twitter to an African-American person who dared to engage with him on social media.

“Can you show me any majority black town that would be considered a nice place to live?” asked Acret.

In the winter of 2021, Acret leaned into the white supremacist slogan “You Will Not Replace Us” in a statement he posted on Facebook.

“Stand up for yourself white people,” wrote Acret as he called on whites to stand up for themselves, even if it meant being called a racist.

“Every other group of people on earth do it,” Acret wrote, adding, “The only group of people that are forbidden to promote the well-being of their own people are whites”.

Acret said whites are being “demographically replaced” in the U.S. and Europe. “Our children will be a hated and persecuted minority in a future where everyone is taught to hate the white man,” he wrote.

“Diversity is codeword for less white people” and “end white genocide” said a tweet posted by Acret in November of 2022. A similar statement appeared on a flier left in the front yard of a home adjacent to Zelnik’s Chico home.

The Proud Boys visit CSU, Chico

In November of 2019, Acret palled around with members of the Proud Boys at California State University, Chico, when they showed up to protest against counter-protesters who were upset that the campus’ Republican student club was hosting a talk by far-right provocateur Brandon Straka. In September of 2021, Straka pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of Engaging in Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in the Capitol Building or Grounds for his role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack.

“The Proud Boys are awesome,” said Acret along with a video of the Proud Boys outside the building where the Straka talk took place. Acret also shared pictures online of himself wearing the signature black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirt worn by many Proud Boys members.

Screenshot from a video of the Proud Boys at the Chico State Brandon Straka event taken by Christopher Acret and shared on Twitter, and photographs of Acret in the signature black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirt worn by Proud Boys members.

An arsenal of assault weapons and other firearms

Acret has shared numerous pictures of AR-15 assault rifles and other firearms on his Facebook page over the last decade. In some of the pictures, Acret’s firearms are simply being displayed on tables or elsewhere. In other pictures, Acret is holding the weapons, aiming them at targets inside and outside of his residence, and in some cases, appears to be firing them in remote wooded areas.

Christopher Acret fires what appears to be an AR-15 with a pistol grip and a photograph he shared of the assault rifle on Facebook.

One picture shared by Acret nearly a decade ago shows an AR-15 sitting on the “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag. In another picture, Acret holds a rifle while wearing a giant foam MAGA hat and a T-shirt with Trump’s head on Sylvester Stallone’s body as it was seen in the Rocky movie.

Screenshot from a video shared on social media by Christopher Acret of him holding what appears to be an AR-15 on his front porch.

Two photographs of rifles shared on social media by Christopher Acret, including what appears to be an AR-15 on the left sitting on the “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag and a Mosin-Nagant on the right.

Photographs of Christopher Acret and guns Acret has shared on his Facebook page through the years.

The distribution of antisemitic fliers occurs as hate crimes, and hate incidents across the United States are at an all-time high.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, 3,697 antisemitic incidents occurred in the U.S. in 2022, the highest number since the ADL started tracking such incidents in 1979. Antisemitic incidents include assault, harassment, and acts of vandalism that target the Jewish community. There were 518 antisemitic incidents reported in California in 2022, a 40 percent increase from 2021. California was second behind New York, where 580 antisemitic incidents were recorded.

In addition, instances of the distribution of antisemitic hate speech propaganda – as well as that which includes white supremacist and neo-Nazi messages – in California increased from 2021 to 2022 by more than 90 percent, according to a new report published by the ADL.

Hatred grows from ignorance, misinformation

Marilyn Traugott.

Redding resident Marilyn Traugott, who is Jewish, was raised in Brooklyn and moved to Redding in 1976. Traugott said the hate-speech fliers say more about the people who distribute them than anything else.

“What do these people think is our hidden agenda?” Traugott asked hypothetically while discussing the issue of hate-speech propaganda.

Traugott is a board member of Shasta County Citizens Advocating for Respect, a Redding-based civil-rights organization. She is also the founder of the nonprofit One Future at a Time. Traugott’s nonprofit helps people in Sub-Sahara Africa with education, healthcare, and starting small businesses.

Traugott said that a lack of education about Jewish people is part of the problem that causes hatred and ignorance. When confronted with individuals who are unfamiliar with the history of Jewish people and their culture, Traugott turns to reputable sources that share accurate facts. She recommends such websites My Jewish Learning and Contributions of Jews to the Modern World to help combat the misinformation and hatred spread by the GDL.

The Florida model

In April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that makes any intentional dumping of literature in the yards of homes with hate speech messages that intimidates or threatens the resident a first-degree misdemeanor. The Florida bill does not say like the California hate crime law, that a specific individual or group must be targeted with the literature. If it is determined that the person dumping the literature poses a “credible threat,” according to the Florida bill, the charge jumps to a third-degree misdemeanor.

Maybe California should go the way of Florida and pass stricter laws that target those who distribute hate-speech propaganda. Acret, the collector of at least nearly 30 different GDL fliers, certainly is not happy with the new Florida law. Acret shared on Twitter that he hated Gov. DeSantis because of his “anti-free speech bill”.

Heading into the 2024 presidential election, time will tell whether hate crimes and hate incidents will continue to rise in the North State, as data shows that hate crimes increased during each of the last four presidential elections.

However, nothing will change the alarming fact that antisemitic incidents and instances of the distribution of hate-speech fliers are rising, and are at an all-time high.

Just because individuals who drop fliers with white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and antisemitic hate speech are typically not prosecuted by law enforcement agencies, does not make those actions any less dangerous.

Hate speech is dangerous to everyone, regardless of whether or not an individual or a group was targeted by it. By its very nature, the distribution of antisemitic, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi propaganda, random or not, targets people, and is a crime against humanity.

Shawn Schwaller

Shawn Schwaller grew up in Red Bluff, California. He is an assistant professor in the History Department at California State University, Chico and holds a Ph.D. in history and an M.A. in American studies. Schwaller specializes in North State stories about law-enforcement corruption and far-right politics. He can be reached at sschwaller@csuchico.edu and welcomes your story tips.

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