Ferndale church finds anti-Semitic flyer posted on doors

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 11, 2018

 After an anti-Semitic flyer was posted on the doors of the First United Methodist Church of Ferndale, local police are looking to identify the man who did so and to issue him a warning not to trespass at the church.

After an anti-Semitic flyer was posted on the doors of the First United Methodist Church of Ferndale, local police are looking to identify the man who did so and to issue him a warning not to trespass at the church.

Image provided by Ferndale Police Department

FERNDALE — After an anti-Semitic flyer was found on the doors of a local church, the church and local police have been working to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.

At around 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, members of the First United Methodist Church of Ferndale found flyers on the church doors that depicted anti-Semitic caricatures of Jewish men and claimed that they were shutting down website domains and that they were coming for people’s free speech.

“It’s a hateful, horrible flyer, and I told my husband, ‘We better go check the other doors,’ and sure enough, we check the other doors of the church on each of our entrances, and they were posted there on the church doors,” said Jill Warren, a member of the church and wife to the Rev. Robert Schoenhals.

“Our position is there’s no room for anti-Semitism anywhere in the world, and certainly not in our church or in our community,” she said.

Warren said this led to the church contacting the Ferndale Police Department to file a report. Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown said that the flyers, while disturbing and offensive, don’t contain any language or threats that would constitute a crime.

“Right now, we don’t feel like anything … illegal has occurred,” he said. “If we do run into that person, the most we feel like we can do is give them a trespass warning, which means if they go back to that church, they can be arrested for trespassing. It’s basically the person in control of that church saying, ‘We don’t want you here for any reason.’”

The department released surveillance video of the suspect posting the flyers and hopes that by identifying him, police can give him the trespass warning. As of now, Brown said police have not received any tips about the man.

“It’s a matter of free speech, and free speech is well and good and we all support the concept when it’s things that we like to hear, and it’s harder to come to terms with it when it’s things we don’t want to hear, and this is one of those situations,” he said. “Like I said, we get it. We are sensitive to the concerns of our community, but we also have to work within the four corners of that document called the Constitution, and you can only go places that that document lets us go.”

Warren said she’s glad the church made the call to Ferndale police so that the suspect can be dealt with.

“The church’s response is to continue to inform all of those who use our facility — because many groups use our facility that are not just our congregation — to be aware that this hate act was done and to be vigilant about safety and making sure that they don’t allow anyone in the building that they don’t know.”