On the weekend before Rosh Hashanah, an anti-Semitic group posted white nationalist stickers around college campuses across the nation. Three Phoenix-area schools were targeted according to two reports from the AZ Mirror.
Patriot Front, which formed in 2017, posted the adhesive labels as part of a nationwide self-promotional campaign. The group put stickers up at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, Grand Canyon University’s Phoenix campus and Paradise Valley Community College.
On its website, Patriot Front states that its mission is to create “a hard reset on the nation we see today — a return to the traditions and virtues of our forefathers.”
The posted stickers contained statements such as “America is not for sale,” “better dead than red,” and “America first” according to pictures posted to the group’s Twitter account.
Patriot Front posted around four stickers at an estimated 90 college campuses across at least 30 different states. It remains unclear if the group purposefully scheduled the campaign on the weekend before Rosh Hashanah or if the timing was coincidental.
In the past, the group has spread anti-Semitic imagery at college campuses.
Although these new stickers did not say anything blatantly anti-Semitic, some of them had popular white supremacist imagery. The group’s logo includes a fasces and 13 stars. According to the Anti Defamation League, the fasces was a popular image during the rise of Benito Mussolini and the number 13 is a popular numeric hate symbol. Replacing the numbers with letters, 1 and 3 become AC, which stands for Aryan Circle.
All items posted by Patriot Front were removed from the Valley campuses quickly after they were put up.
PVCC is one of 10 schools that are a part of the Maricopa County Community College District. The district’s director of communication and public relations, Matthew Hasson, said that any group — regardless of political orientation — must get any and all public flyers or stickers approved by the college where the items will be posted.
Although he said that the college district condemns hate of any kind, there was a possibility that the stickers could have been approved if Patriot Front had gone through the proper channels and the adhesive labels had met the criteria laid out by the district.
Similarly, the stickers at GCU were also removed because the Patriot Front activists did not go through the proper channels to get approval before putting them up.
At GCU, the campus quickly noticed the handful of small stickers even though they were roughly the size of a small envelope. None of what was posted had been approved by the university and the labels were quickly removed.
“As a private institution, GCU requires that any messaging or posters placed on campus must go through an approval process with Student Affairs,” said Bob Romantic, executive director of the school’s Office of Communications and Public Relations. “This group did not adhere to that protocol. There were no incidents from students that were brought to our attention.”
Bret Hovell, associate vice president for media relations and strategic communications at ASU, confirmed that their administration also has not received any reports of incidents with students finding the images.
He added that the stickers were removed as soon as possible because the school does not allow for that kind of hateful rhetoric.
The founding director of Rohr Chabad at ASU, Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel, was unaware of Patriot Front’s actions before being contacted by Jewish News. He called the act disturbing to hear, but added he was grateful that ASU had quickly and already removed them. Tiechtel expressed that whenever any kind of anti-Semitic incident happens on campus, the Chabad center is a place where all Jewish students can feel safe.
“I want to show the students that they’re not alone,” Tiechtel said. “They have a community that loves them, cares for them and supports them. We also make sure that we can do whatever we can to make them feel safe.”
Chabad at ASU is also in coordination with the Tempe Police Department and ASU’s administration to be constantly aware of any anti-Semitic acts. The Chabad had also arranged for the synagogue to have extra security for its large Yom Kippur service.
Tiechtel said it’s unfortunate that they need it now, but the Chabad has armed security at all of its Shabbat services and holiday events. However, he said that simply being available for all students does more to ensure security.
“We’re available to all of our students 24/7,” Tiechtel said. “We take the proper security cautions and we’re always working with the college. Anti-Semitism has no place at ASU anyway.” JN