Saline Police Investigate White Supremacist Propaganda Found in City
The Saline Police Department is investigating after racist propaganda started showing up on the back of signs and street poles in the city.
The stickers advertise the PatriotFront.us website, along with messages like "It's Okay to be White," "United We Stand," "Reject Poison" (drugs), and "America First." Another sticker shows two people apparently fighting and reads "Good Night Left Side."
The PatriotFront website includes a manifesto that calls for revolution against tyranny occupying the government. The manifesto says that Europeans conquered a "savage" continent and that Americans are descendants of "conquerors, pioneers, visionaries, and explorers" and that Americans must "return to the traditions and virtues of our forefathers."
A local resident found the propaganda on a utility pole near Michigan Avenue and Ann Arbor Street last Tuesday. That sticker was removed by a Department of Public Works employee. More stickers were found later in the week along Michigan Avenue near Lewis Street.
Saline Police Chief Marlene Radzik said the department is investigating.
"We are documenting and removing these stickers as we locate them,'' Radzik said. "Aside from the obvious - defacing public property - we are investigating to determine if there is any specific intent to commit a more serious crime."
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Saline Police Department at 734-429-7911.
People are also asked to contact the DPW if they find more vandalism around the city.
City Manager Colleen O'Toole told city council the city is tracking staff time related to the matter for the purposes of restitution in the event the culprit is caught.
The Patriot Front group has been in the news this year. In June, 31 members of the group were arrested and charged with "conspiracy to riot" in opposition to a LGBTQ event at a park in Idaho. The men were arrested wearing tactical pants and masks - making them look like a small militia.
According to an article in The Guardian, the group's fundraising and mobilizing efforts more resemble a media production company than the typical neo-nazi group.
“No other white supremacist group operating in the US today is able to match Patriot Front’s ability to produce media, ability to mobilize across the country, and ability to finance,” Morgan Moon, investigative researcher with the ADL Center on Extremism, told The Guardian.
The group's website boasts about its activism and the number of promotional materials "placed" in various locations. The website seems to indicate Michigan has been one of its most active states over the last two months.
Officials don't know who posted the propaganda in Saline. Was it a local member of the Patriot Front? A member who just happened to be in town? Perhaps it was someone hoping to cause this type of uproar.
Either way, with the stir caused on social media and now, perhaps, by any other attention caused by this and other articles, the group may get what it wants - more attention.
Regardless of who posted the propaganda or why they posted it - Saline residents on social media were squarely unhappy to see it in their community.
"Cowards have to use their sticker collection (because) the words out of their mouths would not sit well with the vast majority of Saline. I hope they see this and know their junk isn’t wanted," Melissa Moore wrote on Facebook.
Resident David Hayward said he was glad to see the city take the propaganda seriously.
"Patriot Front is a very active white supremacist group who embrace violence and have been actively recruiting in Michigan. Better to show that we won't allow small acts of intimidation to go unanswered than to wait and do nothing and hope it doesn't escalate," Hayward said.
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