Hundreds of locals joined hands in southern Brooklyn on Sunday to protest recruitment flyers for a white nationalist group that were found plastered late last week.
Passersby first spotted a sign advertising the Patriot Front — a growing, Texas-based white nationalist group — on 86th Street and Third Avenue on Jan. 2. A photo of the poster spread online and drew outrage from locals, who quickly ripped the flyer down.
The signs continued to crop across the neighborhood in the following days. On Friday, locals spotted a large banner hanging over the Belt Parkway’s 80th Street pedestrian overpass reading “protect American labor” with a link to the Patriot Front’s website, the Brooklyn Eagle reported. Locals found stickers for the Patriot Front on 76th Street and Ridge Road and scattered throughout the park hugging Shore Road on Saturday and Sunday mornings, residents reported.
The Patriot Front was founded in 2017 and grew following its participation in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The group preaches white supremacism, anti-Semitism, and often uses slick graphics and vague, populist messaging to lure supporters.
On Sunday, more than 250 locals gathered on 86th Street and Third Avenue at 2 pm to condemn the signs and show their support for Brooklyn’s immigrant communities. During the event, organized by Fight Back Bay Ridge and a host of other community groups, residents of all ages stretched down Third Avenue between 85th and 87th streets chanting slogans that rejected the hate group and promoted a sense of community. Many attendees held signs that read, “Immigrants welcome and valued here” and “We will protect each other.”
Protesters said that the group’s flyers constitute not only an act of hate speech, but a violent threat.
“It’s not a free speech issue, it’s a not-so-subtle call to arms,” said Noah Weston, a local activist who helped organize the rally. “There is violence on the end of what they’re saying.”
Other attendees noted that the posters aren’t the first time white nationalists have used Brooklyn as a recruiting ground, but added that rallies and protest have deterred the groups in the past.
“When I was a kid growing up in this neighborhood, the KKK distributed some posters in the ’80s, and I think they were met with a similar pushback,” said Bay Ridgite Kristen Pettit. “They did not gain a foothold in this neighborhood. We came out loud and strong and showed this group that they are not welcome in this area.”
The Patriot Front’s signs come weeks after a string of anti-Semitic attacks plagued Brooklyn, injuring three Jewish adults and two children over the course of Hanukkah. About 25,000 people marched over the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday in response to the attacks, chanting, “No hate, no fear.”