Men confronted after posting ‘Back to Israel, Jews’ flyers in Long Branch
LONG BRANCH — When Jason Platko saw two men putting up anti-Semitic posters in town on Sunday night, he could have just let it go. Instead, he says, he not only confronted the men but tore down the posters they were putting up.
Platko said he was out with his family when he saw the men hanging the posters on telephone poles near the Inkwell Coffee House. He said he could see the posters had a "very recognizable caricature of a Jewish person," so he "immediately knew something was up."
He shared the poster on social media. It includes the phrase "Back to Israel, Jews" and references to the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website that has advocated for the genocide of Jews.
Platko said after seeing the first poster, he followed the men, pulling down subsequent posters they had hung up before confronting them. Platko said he asked the men how they could spread that kind of speech in 2018, and said he told them "everybody deserves to be here."
"We confronted them again in the parking lot. At that point we tried to talk to them," he said. "'Honestly, tell us your viewpoint. What do you think? What are your feelings?' They refused to engage us verbally, directing us to the website on the poster."
The Daily Stormer's message, according to the Anti-Defamation League, "is dominated by crude and vitriolic anti-Semitic language and graphics." The website was founded in 2013 and "is notorious for its hateful, racist content and troll culture," according to the ADL."
Platko said that at one point one, one of the men "patted me on the shoulder kind of aggressively, told me to have a nice day, started walking away. I told him not to touch me again. He turned around, thought better of it and left the area, went to his car."
Platko is not Jewish, but his wife is, and he said he felt confronting the men was "the right thing to do."
"This is a country where everybody should be welcome and is welcome," he said. "This kind of speech has no place in our society. Not in a civilized society. When you say nothing you enable people. If we don't take a stand and say things when we see that they're wrong you're allowing this thing to happen. you embolden these people and that's not what we should be doing."
Long Branch Police Chief Jason Roebuck said the department is investigating the matter as a "potential bias incident." Roebuck said at this point police do not believe any laws have been broken that would constitute a bias crime, but that the investigation is ongoing.
The group linked to the flyers Platko tore down is not the same one connected to incidents reported around Monmouth and Ocean counties last year. Last July, the group Vanguard America was reportedly connected to a banner that covered a Holocaust memorial in Lakewood saying "(((HEEBS))) WILL NOT DIVIDE Us," at the same time that flyers were passed around complaining of "thieving Jews."
Last month NBC 4 New York reported the same group was spreading anti-Semitic flyers in Asbury Park, including one with the headline "hate facts with Hitler, brought to you by Vanguard America."