Saline makes statement on white supremacist stickers

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Image Credit: The City of Saline

Recently, people out walking their dogs in Saline began noticing stickers on phone polls – stickers promoting Patriot Front, a white supremacist pressure group. Brandy Bar-Herschman told the Sun Times News that she and her friends began noticing more and more of them and got into contact with the City to get them removed from public property.

“I didn’t know what it I was. I had to Google it. When I saw what it was, part of me was mortified and shocked that this was in the community, and another part of me was like: ‘here we go again,’” Bar-Herschman said.

The stickers were credited to Patriot Front, a white supremacist organization. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group
“is an image-obsessed organization that rehabilitated the explicitly fascist agenda of Vanguard America with garish patriotism. Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country.”

An example of the stickers. Image Credit: Brandy Bar-Herschman.

“It was a big surprise. Apparently, someone decided to put them on a number of city poles and signs to either stir up trouble, or to make awareness of their group. I don’t know. We don’t know who it is, but of course it is vandalism,” Mayor Pro Tem Dean Girbach said. “Saline is trying to change its reputation for inclusion. We do not support [the group’s views], or do we want to see that type of hate in our community.”

Several stickers kept appearing a few at a time. According to the Anti-Defamation League, “Since 2019, Patriot Front has been responsible for the vast majority of white supremacist propaganda distributed in the United States.”

“I was made aware of this from a community member,” Saline Police Chief Marlene Radzik said in an email, adding that an investigation is ongoing.

Around half a dozen of these stickers have been found, according to City Manager Colleen O’Toole. They were subsequently removed by Saline’s Department of Public Works.

“This may sound like a relatively mundane response, but I would like to stress that that is the response that we will always have. Hate speech and vandalism of that nature will not be tolerated in our community,” O’Toole said at Monday’s City Council meeting. “I think our entire team is in lock step in responding in that manner, as swiftly as we can to take that sort of hate speech out of our community, and make it clear that that’s not welcome here.”

An example of the stickers. Image Credit: Brandy Bar-Herschman.

Bar-Herschman said she was not satisfied with how quickly the City is handling the stickers. Kerstin Woodside, the President of the diversity and inclusion support organization Saline Supports said that she was happy with the City’s response and did not want to give the group the attention that it wanted.

“Obviously when you see things like that it makes you feel a little unsafe. But based on reactions I have seen from the community; it’s been everyone saying how horrible it is. It’s an example of the community coming together and showing that we don’t tolerate this sort of behavior in our community,” Woodside, said. When asked if Saline’s racial, ethnic, LGBT and religious minority communities feel safe in Saline, she said “No. I don’t think they do. … I do think there has been progress made. But I don’t think they feel 100 percent safe in Saline now. … It’s a big project to make Saline more welcoming, and also get rid of that reputation. It’s easy for a bad reputation to happen and harder to show that we’ve changed.”

O’Toole, Gibrach and Marl all said that if anyone sees these stickers they should report them. The Department of Public Works can be contacted at 734.429.9812. The Saline Police Department can be contacted through their 734.429.7911 non-emergency number.

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