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Message from the State Attorney

Photo: Katherine Fernandez Rundle Headshot 2

Katherine Fernandez Rundle
State Attorney

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Dear Friend,

As your State Attorney, it is my great honor and responsibility to protect our diverse and vibrant community. I am gravely concerned with the recent rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Miami-Dade County and in South Florida. As a result, my office has seen an increase in the number of referral calls to the State Attorney’s Office Hate Crimes Hotline. Since October 7, 2023, we have been reviewing one to three cases a day of potential hate crimes.

The 2022 FBI data shows there were over 11,634 hate crimes incidents reported nationwide. Of those 59.1% were based on Race/Ethnicity,

17.2% based on Sexual Orientation, and 17.3% based on Religion.

The latter had a 5% increase from their 2020 report.

Though South Florida is seeing a sudden surge of anti-Semitic incidents intended to intimidate and terrorize members of our Jewish community, I want to reaffirm to you my and my office’s commitment to vigorously prosecute those crimes committed that are motivated by prejudice, discrimination, and hatred.

This is clearly evident with recent arrests and charges filed against:

  • Yudel Antonio Herrero for intentionally and maliciously disrupting the Shabbat services at the King David Chabad. He used anti-Semitic language toward those entering the religious service and blew a shofar with the intention of interrupting and drowning out the prayers of the congregation.
  • Andrew Johnson for throwing objects at and breaking the glass door at the entrance at a synagogue in the Brickell area.
  • Alier Ojeda Salas for going to a school in Miami Beach and stating that he was a member of Hamas and had explosives in his backpack. Though he didn’t have explosives, he was still a threat.

We are also investigating many more cases, including that of a man in the Bay Harbor Islands who stopped his car to yell anti-Semitic slurs at a woman who was walking.

I am proud to have created a Hate Crimes Prosecution Unit (HCU), some seven years ago which is an integral part of my office. In fact, the Anti-Defamation League has awarded HCU Chief Justin Funck and Assistant Chief Jonathan Borst its Doris and Murray Felton Excellence in Law Enforcement Award for their work on prosecuting hate crimes.

Hate is a dangerous sentiment, and it has no place in any self-respecting society or community. Hate crimes are intended to polarize and damage the very essence of our community.

Messages of hate, discrimination, and prejudice should never be allowed to stand. I vow that in Miami-Dade County they will not be tolerated.

Thank you and God bless.


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