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White supremacist, pro-Trump posters popping up in downtown Fargo

FARGO -- Posters advocating white supremacist and white separatist beliefs were tacked to telephone poles in downtown Fargo alleys recently. Fargo resident Christopher A. Smith photographed the posters and posted them on Facebook. "My first thoug...

This poster was found Monday April 24, 2017, in downtown Fargo. Christopher A. Smith / Special to The Forum
This poster was found Monday April 24, 2017, in downtown Fargo. Christopher A. Smith / Special to The Forum
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FARGO - Posters advocating white supremacist and white separatist beliefs were tacked to telephone poles in downtown Fargo alleys recently.

Fargo resident Christopher A. Smith photographed the posters and posted them on Facebook.

"My first thought when I saw the posters was to tear them down. But, then, I thought it would be better to document the posters and their locations and share this to social media to raise awareness of what is happening in the community," Smith said.

Posters saying "White Lives Matter altright" and promoting an alt-right barbecue social started appearing Thursday, April 20, Smith said.

Other posters proclaiming "White people have a right to exist. Altright.com," and "This country is your birthright. Don't give it up" signed by "The Flyovers," were seen Monday, April 24 near Wurst Bier Hall and in Roberts Alley. Another poster said "Trump was the first step, we're the next," and gave several web addresses for alt-right groups.

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This poster was found Monday April 24, 2017, in downtown Fargo. Christopher A. Smith / Special to The Forum

The posters had been removed by Tuesday morning, April 25.

Unity-USA, a Fargo nonprofit working to combat racism and discrimination, posted a hate-group warning for Fargo-Moorhead on its Facebook page.

"While it is unknown which group is directly responsible, Unity-USA is conducting research and trying to track down suspected groups/group members," the group said in the post Monday.

Kade Ferris, public information director for Unity-USA and UnityND, said the posters have been going up in the last few weeks. He said they appear to have been created by an "a la carte hate group."

Rather than hewing strictly to the beliefs of groups like the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nations, members of "a la carte" groups pluck themes from the ideologies that "fit their own twisted hate system," Ferris said.

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This poster was found Monday April 24, 2017, in downtown Fargo. Christopher A. Smith / Special to The Forum

"If there is a group starting, it could be a very organic, fledgling group of like-minded wannabe Nazis," Ferris said.

He said there are indications that group is wrapping its message in the trappings of Norse mythology, including references to Odin, the god of war, death, the sky, wisdom and poetry, and a belief in the old gods of Scandinavia and Northern Europe called Asatru.

"A person being proud of Swedish heritage is a good thing. But trying to hide your racism behind that pride is a whole 'nother thing," Ferris said. "A thing like this gives good, honest, Scandinavian North Dakotans a black eye."

A Fargo police spokesman said he didn't have any detailed information on the posters.

"Yesterday, we have received one email on our tip line regarding the posters" which was passed on to the district commander, Deputy Chief Joe Anderson said in an email to The Forum.

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This poster was found Monday April 24, 2017, in downtown Fargo. Christopher A. Smith / Special to The Forum

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Moorhead Police Lt. Tory Jacobson said he had of no reports of similar posters going up in Moorhead.

Ferris said while the posters are free speech, he encouraged reporting any criminal acts to police and spotting of racist signs to www.unitynd.com/incident-report , so his organization can track them.

"The main thing is for people to stay calm," Ferris said. "It's just an incident of possible hate group activity. That's something to monitor, but not worry about at present."

It's the not the first time groups or individuals espousing white supremacist ideologies have cropped up in the region. Unity-USA was formed in the wake of Craig Cobb's efforts to turn the small town of Leith, N.D., into a haven for white supremacists.

A Fargo resident also posted numerous signs downtown earlier this year identifying a Fargo man as a Nazi, though the subject of the posters rejected that label and said he considers himself "pro-white."

Related Topics: POLICEFARGONORTH DAKOTA
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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