A neo-Nazi group that claimed their recent actions were spurred by “violent left-wing” protests posted flyers across the Arizona State University campus declaring “Hitler was right,” among other anti-Semitic messages.
It’s not the first time the campus has been targeted by the Folkish Resistance Movement, or Folksfront, which says it officially formed on Feb. 24 “exactly 100 years from the founding of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party” and has a “Fourteen Points” mantra that includes demanding an end to all immigration and the expulsion of foreign nationals, declaring white people the only U.S. citizens and demanding a set of laws to govern non-whites, the banning of media “harmful to the nation,” and banning “all forms of art and entertainment which are harmful or seek to degrade the national character.”
Last November, flyers bearing the Folksfront name were found on the ASU campus, including one that said “Love not hate” with a swastika replacing the “o” in “love” and a Star of David replacing the “a” in “hate.”
Flyers posted around the campus this month included the Hitler imagery along with one bearing a swastika and declaring “unity of our blood.”
“Our belief is that all places on campus should be safe spaces. These flyers have and will be removed, for they are not attributed or affiliated with any group at ASU from what we can determine,” the university tweeted, stating in another tweet that ASU Police were “aware” of the flyers and “ensuring the safety and security of our students is a top priority, and ASU undertakes extensive efforts to ensure student safety is not compromised.”
The Anti-Defamation League of Arizona called the flyers “abhorrent and harmful to the ASU community,” and called on the school “to take campus recruitment efforts to hate groups very seriously to dismantle any climate of bias and hate.”
Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel, director of Chabad at ASU, wrote in a Facebook post that several students had reached out for support after the “vile flyers of hate” appeared.
“Coming days after the hateful torching of our sister center, Chabad at the University of Delaware, the flyers have alarmed many,” he said. Officials said last week’s blaze at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at the University of Delaware was arson and they are investigating to determine whether it was a hate crime.
Tiechtel said the ASU administration reacted quickly to take down the flyers and launch an investigation. “While these flyers do not reflect the ASU leadership and campus community in any way, actions such as these darken our campus somewhat, and call for a renewed expression of light since this happened here,” the rabbi continued. “…When we are faced with opposition and anti Jewish sentiment, we cannot back down. It is a time to add in Jewish pride and to live more Jewishly.” A student commented on the post that she was starting to feel “ridiculously unsafe at ASU.”
In a February update tracking of white supremacist propaganda, the ADL said there were 2,713 cases of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ fliers, stickers, banners and posters distributed or posted on or off campuses in 2019 — double the number of incidents in 2018 and the highest level of activity recorded by the organization. About a fourth of incidents in 2019 occurred on college campuses; this trend has risen since white supremacist groups increased their targeting of campuses with recruitment flyers beginning in 2016.
The 630 campus incidents reported last year were nearly double the 320 incidents recorded in 2018, and targeted 433 different campuses in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Most campuses were only hit once or twice with the propaganda. Most of the material in all of the 2019 incidents was attributed to Patriot Front, the American Identity Movement, and the New Jersey European Heritage Association, with additional campaigns from many smaller groups.
Folksfront runs a website hosted by Los Angeles-based company DreamHost, with privacy services enabled that shield the registrant’s information, on which they boasted earlier this month of a “banner drop” with the “Hitler was right” graphics in Queen Creek, Ariz., where in 2018 an electronic road sign was hacked to read “hail Hitler.” Queen Creek is half an hour from Tempe, where ASU is located.
After the banner was hung on a railroad bridge, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office cited Andrew Skabelund, 28, Jacob Zink, 37, Patrick Kraft, 34, and Matthew Tijerina, 31, with a class 3 misdemeanor trespassing violation, but said they were not investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Folksfront said on their website that the “Hitler was right” banner was hung in reaction to “recent events, with violent left-wing mobs staging riots across the country.” The group said the quartet “conducted themselves greatly” when police arrived and that they “concluded the day’s events by having a bite to eat.”
Flyers appeared later in the month in Henderson, Boulder City and Las Vegas, Nevada, bearing swastikas and phrases such as “America awake” and “smash white guilt.”