White nationalist groups like Patriot Front and American Identity Movement — formerly known as Identity Evropa — are increasing their propaganda and recruiting efforts across the western U.S., according to NPR. This increase has prompted authorities to examine whether last week’s terror attack on two New Zealand mosques is related to the European-based breed of white nationalism that these groups embody.
The movement formed in France in 2016, and is broadly based on the belief that white people and their culture in Europe and North America are being displaced by non-European immigrants and their cultures. In recent months, groups that identify with this belief have been putting up posters on college campuses in Utah, California, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Typically, members remain anonymous and take to social media to promote their beliefs.
Ruth V. Watkins, University of Utah president, released a statement back in January concerning the tactics of these white nationalist groups.
“These cowardly, faceless and non-university sanctioned tactics are designed to disrupt and frighten individuals and communities, and to garner attention for an insidious ideology that has no place on our campus or in our community.”
But when people speak out against white nationalist movements, it often adds fuel to the fire. In response to this statement, Patrick Casey, executive director of Identity Evropa, acknowledged the mainstream coverage his group was receiving. He suggested that the group was considering increasing its efforts in Utah.
White supremacist propaganda has increased by over 180 percent this past year, the Anti-Defamation League said, as groups recruit disaffected white kids looking for community.
— NPR (@NPR) March 19, 2019
Richard Medina, a geography professor at the University of Utah, claims that white nationalist groups are moving west because of an increasing Latino and immigrant population in the area. Although the region is predominantly white, Medina claims that there are many changes taking place. He also believes that the main motivation of white nationalist groups is a resistance to such change. And by portraying themselves as victims, they capture the attention of young white adolescents who feel that they, too, have been victimized. Such groups may give these young people a place to feel welcomed.
Before it moved west, white nationalism typically thrived in eastern states. Recently, stickers advertising the American Identity Movement were posted along the route of Sunday’s South Side Irish Parade in Chicago, Illinois. Specifically, the stickers were found on approximately 20 light posts on Western Avenue — between 99th and 119th streets — as per The Chicago Sun-Times.
Matthew O’Shea, the alderman of the 19th ward of Chicago, spoke about the stickers in a letter that he emailed to constituents.
“The racist and anti-Semitic positions espoused by this organization do not reflect the values and character of our community. We must forcefully speak out against this hatred and counter it with our own message of unity.”