White supremacist and neo-Nazi propaganda — from flyers to stickers and graffiti — has been spotted across the Pikes Peak region over recent months, mirroring a statewide increase in extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in public spaces, the Anti-Defamation League says.
Stickers advertising a white supremacist group were reported Thursday morning on light poles along North Academy Boulevard between East Woodmen Road and Interstate 25, city officials say.
Colorado Springs’ Code Enforcement staff removed the stickers and “is on the lookout for the same conditions citywide,” city spokeswoman Kim Melchor said.
Distributing flyers or posting stickers isn’t a crime unless they target an individual or business, but no one is allowed to attach signs to light poles, said police Sgt. Brian Frahm.
And, Frahm said, “We don’t want to have anything up that can alarm anybody. We’re not going to just ignore it. Anytime we get hate stickers or white supremacist groups or any hate group for that matter, we’re going to look into it and make sure that the proper units are notified and aware of the situation.”
Since the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., a year ago, when a counterprotester was fatally rammed by a vehicle, fewer public alt-right events have been reported, said Jeremy Shaver, senior associate director for the ADL’s Mountain States region.
The hate community fractured. Some groups disbanded, and other prominent leaders went underground. Many groups shifted their focus to online activity and posting flyers, Shaver said. Many seem to believe “the time is right to recruit” and get their message out, he said.
Brad Sherman, who has lived in Colorado Springs for nearly a decade, told The Denver Post that he saw a large swastika painted on Briargate Trail while walking his dogs this week.
The trail “is my quiet place to relax from my day,” Sherman told The Post. “To see a swastika in the middle of it is fairly upsetting.”
Melchor confirmed the report and said the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services maintenance team “quickly removed the derogatory symbols on Aug. 23.”
Some of the local propaganda, including stickers and flyers, has been claimed by or advertises two groups, Identity Evropa and Patriot Front. Both are classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In response to a request for comment, Identity Evropa spokesman Sam Harrington disputed that classification.
“America is being replaced as a result of mass immigration and globalism,” Harrington said in a written statement. “Identity Evropa is a peaceful activist movement for European Americans seeking to truly restore America.
“The SPLC can point to neither a statement nor action from a current representative to justify their claims. Advocacy of supremacy, violence, or illegal activity is not permitted in our movement.”
Shane Warren said he saw Patriot Front flyers July 21 while running along the Sand Creek Regional Greenway between Stetson Hills and Dublin boulevards.
He said he saw the first flyer out of the corner of his eye and didn’t think much of it until he saw the reference to “blood and soil,” a Nazi slogan.
“I’m enough of a history buff that I damn well know what that means,” Warren said. “I stopped dead and went back and looked at it and pulled it down. And then the further I ran, the more of them I saw.”
He said he tore down the flyers and destroyed them because “that sh — is horrific. This is a pretty diverse neighborhood, and I have a lot of friends and neighbors, not to mention kids, who don’t need to be involved in that sort of thing.”
Patriot Front tweeted Tuesday that stickers had been posted in Manitou Springs. One depicts the U.S. next to the words “NOT STOLEN — CONQUERED.” Another, stuck on a newspaper stand for the Colorado Springs Independent, declares the publication to be fake news.
“AMERICA,” a third says, “REVOLUTION IS TRADITION.”
The ADL reports a statewide increase in white supremacist and anti-Semitic propaganda. Through Friday, the organization had tracked 36 such incidents in Colorado this year, including distributions on eight college campuses.
Before 2015, the state had seen a decline in hate crimes, but 2015 and 2016 saw an uptick, Shaver said.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reports 104 hate crimes statewide in 2016, the most recent data available. In 2015, 107 were reported; 2014 saw 95 reported; 2013 had 129 reports; and in 2012, 167 were reported.
In February, Identity Evropa flyers were found on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus, says the ADL’s hate, extremism, anti-Semitism and terrorism map.
A Patriot Front banner was hung near Interstate 25 and Baptist Road in early July, and Identity Evropa stickers were posted in Dorchester Park in June, Shaver said.
The ADL has reported nine incidents — four anti-Semitic and five white supremacist — in Colorado Springs, plus one in Monument, in 2017 and 2018.
In August 2017, a swastika and other anti-Semitic messages — including the words “sig (sic) heil” for “sieg heil,” a Nazi greeting — were found spray-painted on Temple Beit Torah, 522 E. Madison St. Nearby cars, homes and buildings also were vandalized.
“I’m deeply saddened, and yet I’m not surprised,” Rabbi Steven Kaye said at the time. Those who are “insensitive to people who are different” recently have become more vocal, he said.