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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Joins Law Enforcement, Stakeholders to Combat Antisemitism

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia
Temple Israel Hosts Federal Government-Sponsored Event on Antisemitism in MDGA

COLUMBUS, Ga. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, the FBI, the Columbus Police Department (CPD) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) joined with Temple Israel in Columbus to discuss the rise of antisemitism in the nation and ways for citizens to safely and effectively respond to and report antisemitic activity. The program was developed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in part, due to antisemitic literature being distributed in Columbus neighborhoods in the recent past. 

Hosted by Temple Israel on Sunday, April 30, U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary kicked off the three-hour program entitled, “Combating Antisemitism: A Legal Perspective.” He was joined by the Civil Rights Coordinators for the Middle District of Georgia, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lance Simon and Hannah Couch. Panel discussions were led by DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Deputy Chief Barbara Bosserman; FBI-Columbus Supervisory Special Resident Agent Richard Bilson; Columbus Police Department Lt. Jeff Bridges; ADL Southern Division Sr. Associate Director for Jewish Community Outreach Eric Ross; and ADL Center on Extremism Associate Investigative Researcher Katie McCarthy.

“It makes sense that this timely gathering of federal prosecutors, law enforcement and stakeholders to discuss the rise of antisemitism and how best to combat it as a community should occur at Temple Israel, one of the first Jewish congregations in Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney Peter Leary. “Antisemitism is a growing threat to both the safety of our Jewish citizens and the United States, undermining the very foundation upon which our nation was built. My hope is that more communities in the Middle District of Georgia will join in this discussion, as we work together to defeat hatred and the violence it creates.”

“Of all the forms of religious and ethnic hatred, anti-Semitism is one of the oldest and most persistent, and it is on the rise,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.  “The Justice Department continues to use all resources at its disposal to hold accountable people who engage in unlawful, bias-motivated acts of hate, including acts of anti-Semitism. In addition to our prosecutions of those who commit hate crimes against Jewish individuals and houses of worship, we are bringing together the Justice Department, local law enforcement and community leaders through our United Against Hate program, to strengthen our overall efforts to combat hate crimes and prevent hate incidents. Our communities, schools, workplaces and religious institutions are all safer when we stand unified in the fight against hate.”

“We feel privileged to host such a prestigious panel, the Jewish communities and its allies to discuss the realities of antisemitism and the dangers it poses to our city, state and the entire country,” said Terrie Potts, Temple Israel’s President. “It’s encouraging to see the extent to which law enforcement resources are being used to fight this and other forms of hate against all people.”

“Antisemitic incidents have reached an all-time high in this country, and Georgia is no exception. In this state, we saw a 63% increase in incidents from 2021 to 2022, and numbers that nearly quadrupled since 2020,” said Eytan Davidson, ADL Southeast Regional Director. “It’s incumbent upon us all to combat hate together, and the coming-together that we see at events like this is exactly what we all need to make the world a better, more inclusive and safer place.”

“The FBI is the lead investigative agency for criminal violations of federal civil rights statutes”, said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “We are proud to work closely with our partners throughout Georgia communities to combat antisemitism, even when federal charges are not able to be pursued. If you have been a victim of a hate crime, the FBI wants to help. Call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or visit to report.”                                                                                                  

“The Columbus Police Department appreciates any opportunity we have to meet with members of our community to discuss, teach and learn about concerns and issues. We commend Temple Israel’s leaders and congregates for their proactiveness in addressing the issues they’re experiencing in terms of antisemitism. We want to send a clear message that hate has no place in our community, and we will continue to do everything we can to help ensure citizens of all faiths and backgrounds have the peace, safety and security they deserve. This gathering and discussion is very much needed because it takes all of us to combat the issue of antisemitism and hatred in our community and the nation as a whole,” said Lt. Jeff Bridges with the Columbus Police Department.

More than 50 people were present for the panel discussions and dialogue, with speakers addressing many topics including the increase in antisemitic incidents, current examples of antisemitic extremism in the District and beyond, law enforcement’s response to such acts, suggested security measures and the Department’s record in prosecuting antisemitic hate crimes.

Citizens are urged to report antisemitic incidents to the local authorities first and then contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia at 478-752-3511.

For more information about hosting a training to combat hate crimes in your community, please contact Pam Lightsey, Law Enforcement Coordinator with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, at

Updated May 2, 2023