WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Detectives are making headway in their search for who scattered dozens of packages containing racially charged messages throughout a Warwick neighborhood.
Residents woke up Tuesday morning to find clear plastic bags on their lawns and driveways. Inside were a handful of home heating pellets and fliers reading “KANYE 2024” and “DEFCON 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE,” along with an image of the rapper and a crossed-out Star of David.
Police said 80 bags were found throughout the Oakland Beach area.
Investigators have identified a vehicle of interest in the case and are now working to identify the driver.
This isn’t the first time Rhode Islanders have discovered racially charged imagery and messages scattered throughout their neighborhoods.
Two men, identified by police as 32-year-old Nicholas Bysheim, of Maryland, and 60-year-old David Kim, from Pennsylvania, were cited for littering last month after officers caught them tossing antisemitic pamphlets onto sidewalks in Newport.
Both men were quickly apprehended after an officer spotted Bysheim driving the wrong way down a one-way street, according to police.
North Providence Police Chief Alfredo Ruggiero tells 12 News residents have reported finding antisemitic propaganda twice within the past month.
Ruggiero said residents spotted the same pamphlets that Bysheim and Kim were caught distributing in Newport last month.
The chief also said one resident reported finding a suspicious bag on their front lawn this past Tuesday.
Ruggerio believes that the incident is connected to the investigation in Oakland Beach.
“We are working with detectives in Warwick,” he said. “It’s going to be a joint investigation.”
Investigators don’t believe anyone is being targeted specifically, noting that the propaganda is scattered randomly throughout the affected neighborhoods.
“We’re taking it serious,” Ruggiero added. “They’re making folks in town a little uncomfortable, and we want to do the best we can to come to a solution to this.”
In the meantime, Ruggiero is urging anyone who notices anyone acting suspicious or finds antisemitic propaganda to contact their local police department immediately.
“Keep an eye out for anybody littering, throwing anything out on the lawn,” Ruggiero said. “Be more vigilant … even if you don’t think it’s anything, it may lead to something.”
Adam Greenman, president of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, told 12 News the number of antisemitic incidents has surged over the past few months.
Sinec June, Greenman said 23 antisemitic incidents have been reported to the Jewish Alliance, which is tasked with tracking them.
“That could be that they’re just getting more reported more, but I suspect that they’re happening more and that’s something that’s really troubling to us,” Greenman said.