More college campuses in Pennsylvania recently got a visit from a group identified as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Identity Evropa tweeted photos of flyers posted on the grounds of Elizabethtown College and Millersville University in Lancaster County to its more than 20,000 followers during the past week or so. The group’s signs have also been found recently at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus.
The organization has been disseminating what it has described as “messages of empowerment for people of European heritage” on city streets, college campuses and Confederate soldiers’ graves across the United States for the past 18 months.
Its Twitter account shows the distribution of alt-right literature at over 100 college campuses as part of its #projectsiege campaign, which aims to decry what it sees as prevalent political correctness and “cultural marxism” in academia. Since spring of 2016, the group posted signs in at least two or three dozen cities, including York and Philadelphia, using the slogan #fashthecity.
Indentify Evropa, which prefers to characterize itself as ‘indentitarian,” helped organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. in August that led to the killing of a counterprotestor.
Elizabethtown College officials condemned the group’s recent presence in Pennsylvania and vowed to eject anyone found disseminating the group’s literature on campus.
“The College is prepared to respond to white supremacist groups or individuals who target our campus. If they show themselves, we will not hesitate to label the members of the group as trespassers and have them removed by law enforcement, if necessary,” wrote College President Carl J. Strikwerda in emails to students, staff and parents.
More email excerpts are posted here by the Raging Chicken Press, which broke the story this week.
Police are still reviewing security camera footage of flyers being posted at Elizabethtown, as well as Millersville, 20 miles southeast, school officials say.
Millersville officials initially stated there was a possibility the tweeted pictures had been manipulated and posters had never been up on campus in the first place. But video surveillance has since confirmed their legitimacy, according to university communications director Janet Kacskos.
The university also issued a response to students Thursday afternoon (along the lines of the official position released Monday from Penn State) disavowing the group’s views — while stressing the need for respectful dialogue and free speech.
Some students hoped for a stronger condemnation.
Within a day, more than 500 people had signed a Penn State petition for a campus ban on the group, which also posted literature there last spring.
We understand that the actions of individuals from these groups are hurtful to many in our community and we share in your frustration, concern and anger. We are indeed paying attention to what is happening, not only here, but across the nation. Law enforcement is monitoring activities. …
Increasingly, hate groups seek to take advantage of the free speech protections that are afforded by colleges and universities. The free exchange of ideas is central to the intellectual and academic work of a university. Hate groups exploit our openness in the attempt to divide us into factions and trigger reactionary responses. The safety of our community is paramount and we encourage everyone to report incidents of concern so that they can be investigated.
Justin Lewis, who studies biology at Millersville, said he noticed most school statements didn’t name the group — a responsible step, in his view, because it at least attempted to minimize any notoriety the organization might hope to gain by posting flyers on campus.
But he says university officials should do more.
“We talk the talk in these emails,” Lewis says. “I say, let’s show people. Let’s plan something out, and make people feel comfortable instead of just sending them a letter.”
In addition to Penn State, flyers were distributed earlier this year at York College, California University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, Westmoreland Community College and Kutztown University.