Student stands to voice their opinion of the white nationalist banner hung on campus. Vincent Valdez/The Paisano

Patriot Front, a national white supremacist organization, has claimed responsibility via Twitter for the unauthorized display of a banner over the UC Paseo (Main Campus) on Nov. 16.

Similar banners and flyers were posted on other area campuses. Flyers were posted at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio with phrases such as “Welcome to occupied America,” “Will your speech be hate speech” and “Not here, not ever,” which Patriot Front had posted to their Twitter on Nov. 10. In October, Patriot Front flyers were found in several areas around Texas State University’s campus.

The organization has claimed responsibility for flyers and banners posted on college campuses nationwide, usually put up at night then posted on their Twitter shortly after. Patriot Front’s YouTube channel has several videos of their demonstrations with their members mostly masked.

According to Portland State University professor of geography and journalist Alexander Reid Ross, Patriot Front is connected to the white supremacist organization Vanguard America, which is rooted in the now-defunct American Vanguard group. James Alex Fields Jr., who drove his car into a crowd of people counter protesting the Unite The Right event in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring 19, is a member of Vanguard America.

A tweet from Patriot Front’s account claiming responsibility for a banner hung over the UC bridge. Photo: Twitter Screengrab

 

“Patriot Front has largely adopted Vanguard America’s organizing strategy, which mostly includes flyering and postering on college campuses to recruit members, attempting to insinuate themselves within college Republicans or some libertarian group and using university funding to bring fascist speakers,” Ross said.

In September, Ross covered a Patriot Front protest at an anarchist book fair in Houston, where masked members rushed the building where the fair was held, lit smoke bombs and held a banner that read “For race and nation.” The protest was led by activist William Fears, who is currently on trial for shooting at protestors outside a speaking event held by Richard Spencer, a white supremacist, in Gainesville, Florida.

The demonstration was filmed and posted on their YouTube channel.

“They are, in fact, a dangerous group: they’re openly fascist, meaning their goal is genocide. Their goal is to recruit on campus to gain momentum to use violence against innocent people and political opponents,” Ross said.

Drexel University professor of political science and activist George Ciccariello-Maher believes that Patriot Front and other white supremacy organizations see universities as ideal spaces to recruit members.

“They think campuses are a soft target, that they can show up with flyers, take advantage of disaffected white students, who feel that the world is out to get them,” he said. “The point is not so much to announce their presence as it is to draw in potential new members.”

Tweet from Patriot Front’s account responding to NAACP’s
‘Call to Action’ event and a UTSA Today article. Photo: Twitter Screengrab

 

Ciccariello-Maher continued, “The reality universities need to recognize is that it is often explicitly students who have been recruited by these organizations.”

In a statement issued to the university, Eighmy said, “At this time, we have no reason to believe that UTSA students were involved in this incident, and our police department is continuing their active investigation.”

Ciccariello-Maher emphasized that both a university’s administration and its students are responsible for preventing further recruiting efforts by white supremacist organizations.

“The strategy has to be ‘What are we going to do to eliminate these threats from our spaces?’ and ‘What are we going to do to make UTSA a space that is not safe for Nazis?’ and to really take that seriously,” Ciccariello-Maher said.

“The administration should recognize that these organizations are a threat to their students. But it’s going to be the students who make this (counter) organizing possible, that track these people down and figure out who they are; and if they’re students, to reveal that to the world, so they can be taken off campus.”

Security footage from the night the banner was hung has since been reviewed, and security on campus has increased.

The Paisano made multiple attempts to contact Patriot Front but received no response.

“There is no obligation to respect white supremacy organizing, or to say that it has a space, or to put it under the banner of free speech, or as a difference of opinion. This is about the humanity of entire groups of people,” Ciccariello-Maher said.

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