An unprecedented number of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers across the U.S. forced evacuations in nine states Monday, leaving the Jewish population shaken.
According to authorities, eleven Jewish Community Centers received threatening calls Monday, several news outlets reported.
Incidents were reported at Jewish Community Centers in St. Paul, Minnesota; Buffalo and Amherst, New York; Birmingham, Alabama; Houston; Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin; Nashville; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Tampa, Florida; and Chicago,
“I’ve never seen a string of attacks like this that are targeting the same kind of institution in the same kind of way. This is new,” Marla Cohen, communications manager for the Jewish Community Center Association, told The Huffington Post.
Law enforcement officials were investigating the threats and, as of late Monday, centers were being reopened after explosive devices were not found.
There have now been at least 67 incidents at 56 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and one Canadian province since the start of 2017, Cohen said.
Monday’s incidents are part a sharp rise in threats made against JCCs around the nation since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, which was frequently criticized for winking at white nationalists and not forcefully condemning hate speech and extremism.
The far-right has become emboldened by Trump’s victory, and the number of hate groups in America is rising, according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and extremism around the nation.
Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at SPLC, said that this series of bomb threats since the new year is “unprecedented.”
“This threatens an entire community. It’s very scary,” Beirich said. “You’re terrorizing whole families and children. There are usually day care centers that serve an entire population in the area. These threats can make it impossible for those communities to function normally.”
Anti-Semitic hate crimes comprise the largest portion of religiously motivated attacks in the United States. But Trump has yet to address the issue.
In fact, the president had multiple opportunities to address concerns over rising anti-Semitism. During his combative press conference on Thursday, a Jewish reporter asked Trump explicitly about the recent spike in bomb threats against JCCs, Trump cut him off, told him to sit down and told the reporter his question wasn’t fair and claimed to be the “least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
The FBI and Department of Justice have said they are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with the threats” to JCCs.
Watch the report on this subject via USA Today in the video below: