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Update on Community Safety

Federation and the Secure Communities Network (SCN) want to update Jewish Atlanta on community safety following activity by antisemitic groups over the weekend. We also want to remind our community of a timely, free security training class being offered next month to all members of Jewish Atlanta. Countering Active Threat Training will be Wednesday, July 19, at 7 PM on Zoom. Click here to register for this free class.

On Friday, June 23, approximately 15 individuals demonstrated with the so-called “Goyim Defense League” (GDL) outside of Temple Beth Israel in Macon, GA. Local police arrived at the scene and arrested GDL leader Jon Minadeo for disturbance of the peace and other minor charges; he posted bond and was released hours later. On Saturday, Minadeo and other GDL protesters returned to Temple Beth Israel and were twice removed by the police. On Saturday afternoon, GDL also appeared at the Chabad of East Cobb.

On Saturday evening and Sunday, June 25, GDL distributed antisemitic flyers in several neighborhoods throughout East Cobb and Sandy Springs. Federation’s Deputy Security Director Bryan Underwood said, “Their practice is to anchor the flyers with something so that they won’t blow away. Sometimes they use pebbles or sand to do this; yesterday they used goat feed. Many concerned citizens mistook the goat feed for rat poison. In case you heard anything about this, I want to be clear: the substance used was not rat poison.”

Security experts do not believe that GDL poses an immediate threat to the people of Jewish Atlanta. Bryan says, “In my opinion, GDL does not present a significant, direct threat of violence. They generally communicate their reprehensible beliefs within the protections afforded by first amendment and free speech. They are very careful not to cross bright legal lines which would lead to any serious criminal exposure. They tend to be very active in a location for a few days with their protests and flyering, then move on to somewhere else. However, they do pose an indirect threat because an unstable lone actor could be inspired by their rhetoric. So, please exercise a heightened sense of awareness.” Remember that you can use Federation’s online incident reporting system to report any suspicious activity that might post a threat to Atlanta’s Jewish community.

Federation is home to Atlanta’s SCN program, which works around the clock to keep the entire Jewish community of Atlanta safe. Atlanta’s synagogues, day schools, nonprofit organizations, and more are all monitored by SCN.

“We are thankful for the quick response of law enforcement to the despicable acts of this weekend, and grateful for the expertise of our security team and our partners. It’s important to remember that the number of people in the world who hold such bigoted beliefs are very small, as this incident shows. The strength and resilience of Jewish Atlanta is much stronger than a tiny group of agitators,” said Federation’s President and CEO, Eric M. Robbins.

Federation and our community partners—including the ADL, Hillels of Georgia, and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) are working with law enforcement to monitor the situation in Georgia. We will be sure to alert our community with any updates.

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