Former reporter arrested for anti-Semitic threats

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 03, 2017

A man is under arrest in connection with some of the more than 100 anti-Semitic threats reported across the country in the last two months. A bullet hole in a synagogue, headstones toppled, and swastikas showing up everywhere from vehicles to churches. 

Friday, police searched the St. Louis home of 31-year-old Juan Thompson. A former reporter fired for fabricating quotes and impersonating people, he's now, accused of calling in threats against Jewish institutions in four of the more than 30 states where incidents have been reported.

"It sends a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated that law enforcement is taking it seriously," says Jeremy Shaver, Associate Director of the Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Regional Office.

Shaver says the increase in reported hate incidents in the last few months, is noticeable.

"We don't have hard numbers yet but I would guess, my best guess would be we've seen probably a doubling and what would be a normal type of scenario," Shaver says.

According to Shaver, the increase isn't limited to the last few months. The ADL says in 2016 there was one anti-Semitic assault reported in the U.S. every week, and at least two anti-Jewish incidents on average every single day.  

"Where we've generally seen a decrease over the last 10 years in hate crimes, in anti-Semitic incidents, for the last two years we've seen those numbers steadily increase," Shaver says.

Shaver says it's important that people report incidents, and that leaders denounce anti-Semitic acts.

Tucson mayor Jonathan Rothschild is calling on the federal government to conduct a full investigation.

"There's got to be evidence that starts to tie who these people are and who's doing this," Rothschild says.

Jewish community leaders met with FBI director James Comey Friday, another step they say to resolve these matters as quickly as possible.

The ADL's Task Force on Harassment and Journalism found that over the course of a year, from August 2015 to July 2016, 2.6 million tweets were sent containing language commonly found in anti-Semitic speech.