Update posted at the bottom of the story to reflect on Millersville University’s response on social media.
White nationalists are off starting the school year by placing recruitment posters on the Millersville University and Elizabethtown College campuses. These posters are part of a recruitment campaign by the white nationalist, alt-right group Identity Evropa. Pictures of the posters with prominent campus landmarks in the background are then distributed on Twitter using the “ProjectSiege” hashtag. Last winter and spring, the organization targeted Kutztown University, Penn State Berks and York College of Pennsylvania.
Identity Evropa focuses on recruiting disaffected college-aged white students on campuses across the country to promote “European Identitarianism.” The group’s founder Nathan Damigo played an important role in organizing the Charlottesville race riot that resulted in the death of counter-protester, Heather Heyer. Damigo quickly raised to fame within the white nationalist and alt-right movements last April when he punched a Berkley female counter-protester in the face.
— IDENTITY EVROPA (@IdentityEvropa) September 16, 2017
— IDENTITY EVROPA (@IdentityEvropa) September 13, 2017
Newsweek reported that in the first weeks of the school year Identity Evropa has posted fliers on 13 campuses in seven states. Marilyn Mayo, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation Leauge, told Newsweek that “Charlottesville emboldened and energized white supremacists,” and:
“Even though they didn’t get to speak, they see it as a success on some level because they could bring together so many strains of the white supremacist movement. You had a lot of young people who went, and they’re going to double-down on their efforts to grow by reaching out to campuses.”
The Newsweek article goes on to describe the posters found on Elizabethtown’s and Millersville’s campuses.
After a brief lull this summer, Identity Evropa is ramping up its recruiting arm with terrifying speed—and a sudden shift in strategy. Historically, the group’s fliers had images of Greek and Roman statues alongside vague phrases like, “Our future belongs to us” and “Let’s become great again.” But a few weeks ago, Identity Evropa unveiled a new recruiting strategy: posters with photos of founder Nathan Damigo and Evan Thomas, another Identity Evropa member—both of whom could pass for frat bros—talking into bullhorns above new slogans, including, “Our generation, our future, our last chance,” and “Action. Leadership. Identity.”
“They’re no longer hiding behind images of statues,” Mayo says, “but showing people who are out there, in the streets, taking action.”
Another batch of Identity Evropa posters promotes books published by Arktos Media, a leading far-right publisher founded by Swedish businessman Daniel Friberg (he launched AltRight.com with Richard Spencer). It’s an academic approach that gives white supremacy not just an intellectual foundation, but a veneer of mainstream culture. As Mayo puts it: “Identity Evropa is trying to go further than just talking about preserving white identity, and wants students to read the works that fuel their ideology, giving them the ideological basis for their thinking.”
Adanjesús Marín, the director of the immigrant rights organization, Make the Road, Pennsylvania and a former Lancaster County resident, said that the posters serve two purposes. They embolden racists on college campuses and are meant to intimidate students of color and the general student body. He said that this is a concerted effort in normalizing white supremacy, but they’re pushing the same intellectual trash they’ve been pushing for years.
However, one Millersville student is not surprised by these posters. Monica Rush, who is part of Lancaster Stands Up and Keystone Progress’ Free Higher Ed campaign, said that it is disheartening, and learned about the posters after leaving a meeting with a diversity consultant that was hired to help the university with its race issues. Ironic? Last semester, the university made news when two students used Snapchat to post a picture of them in blackface. She said that “Millersville has been struggling with intolerance on campus for a while now- we had several hate crimes committed following the election last year,” and ended by saying ” it makes me absolutely livid to see it, and upset, but it’s not outside of what I would expect to see.”
Millersville University police believe the posters were “photoshopped” onto their landmarks.
— Sean Kitchen 🌹 (@RCPress_Sean) September 20, 2017