Emerson President Condemns White Nationalist Posters

Seven fliers from a hate group were discovered on campus.

emerson poster pic

Photo via Sabrina Petrafesa

After a half-dozen posters espousing white nationalism were found around the campus, Emerson College’s president is condemning the hate group’s messaging.

In an email to students Wednesday, Lee Pelton writes that the views expressed on the fliers—the work of a group called American Vanguard—have “no place on our campus as a community that cherishes the diversity of ideas and people acting together in shared interests as a sustaining and core value.”

He says six posters were found inside Emerson’s Walker Building, which houses classrooms and administrative offices, as well as at least one in a residence hall. It is not known who posted them, but Pelton says the school is investigating. Both buildings require a key card to access, according to Nicole Sullivan, a college spokeswoman. Students can also sign guests in at security desks.

“Look around, White man,” one of the posters reads, according to a picture circulated on social media. “Is this the country your ancestors died for?”

Anthony Betances, a 22-year-0ld former Emerson student, says he tweeted out a picture of one of the posters after it appeared on a private Facebook group. “Not the 1st time white supremacist BS has been posted at @EmersonCollege, but this call to action is alarming,” he wrote.

Betances, who graduated in May, says he remembers seeing swastikas scrawled in an elevator, and once found a trash can with the n-word written on it, on the floor of his dorm his freshman year. “This was a whole other level of that,” he says.

There is a page on American Vanguard’s website that includes pre-made posters that supporters can print out. They have been found recently at Purdue University and the University of Central Florida.

It’s the latest effort for fringe far-right groups to get their message across by anonymously leaving provocative messages in areas where they are likely to get a reaction and possibly attract vulnerable people to join their ranks. Someone posted neo-Nazi fliers reading “Black Lives Don’t Matter” around the Boston University campus in May. Another hate group targeted a BU professor last year. A blog for Nazis managed to get some attention when it declared New Balance “the official shoes of white people.”

Tensions are particularly high after an election, with hundreds hate crimes reported in the aftermath with apparent ties to the candidate. A hotline for Massachusetts residents to report such incidents, set up by Attorney General Maura Healey, fielded 400 calls in its first week.

Here is Pelton’s letter to the community, obtained by Boston:

Yesterday, seven posters – six in the Walker Building and at least one in a residence hall – sponsored by a group calling itself the American Vanguard were found on campus.  The posters were apparently placed here as part of the group’s Northern Propaganda Campaign, whose purpose is “to spread its message and influence.”

American Vanguard is a white supremacist and anti-Semitic organization that believes biological and genetic determinism assert the intellectual superiority of what it calls the “white race:” 

It goes without saying that the racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric of American Vanguard has no place on our campus as a community that cherishes the diversity of ideas and people acting together in shared interests as a sustaining and core value.

American Vanguard’s manifesto reads, in part:

White America is under attack. Through subversion, the forces of Marxism have brought our nation to its knees by rotting it from within. The traditional values that have kept Western civilization alive for millennia are being torn down. While millions of our countrymen languish in poverty and our infrastructure crumbles, our jobs are shipped overseas and billions sent to Israel … It has been hammered into our heads that wholesale ethnic replacement is not only natural and good, but it is unstoppable… We want to be at the forefront of the reawakening of White racial consciousness..

The posters were not put here to propagandize but rather to intimidate and silence.  However, we will not be silenced. We will raise our strong voices of protest and our unassailable belief in the enduring power of our common humanity. We do this because we know that we are a resilient community of strong-minded people who – regardless of political or social affiliations – are determined to drown out these desperate and ugly voices of bigotry and soul-numbing hate.

The arc of human history, as well as the future, are on our side.

We have not yet identified who placed these posters in our community under the cowardly cloak of anonymity. However, I have asked the Emerson College Police Department to do all that it can to identify the person or persons who did so.

We will not tolerate the promulgation of racist and anti-Semitic declarations in our community.

Staff in the offices of Diversity & Inclusion and Student Affairs are available to offer support should you think it helpful.

Lee Pelton