Dozens of stickers advertising the far-right hate group Patriot Front have popped up in Greenpoint and Williamsburg in recent weeks, worrying locals about the spread of white supremacist propaganda in the area.
“Who wants to leave their house and see white power shit,” said one Greenpoint woman, who wanted to stay anonymous for fear of retribution from the organization. “We have a lot going on here, and this is how you’re spending your time?”
Patriot Front originated in Texas as an off-shoot of the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America in the aftermath of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Now, the stickers have cropped up in northwestern parts of Greenpoint on street corners, lamp posts, benches, mailboxes, and on the Pulaski Bridge.
The hate group’s Twitter page even publicized some of the stickers in Brooklyn in areas that appear to be Kent Avenue in Williamsburg and West Street in Greenpoint on April 25, along with various other locations around the country.
The recent spate of hate follows a series of other instances where the group’s message was spread around the borough — including when locals held an anti-hate rally after Patriot Front members hung a spiteful banner over the Belt Parkway, and when the group’s signage began to litter liberal Park Slope.
And while it remains unclear how many people are actively spreading the Patriot Front paraphernalia in Brooklyn, the bigoted messages have instilled fear in residents, according to one local activist and political candidate.
“Many neighbors have come up to me and said, ‘I’m afraid of putting up a mezuzah in my window or displaying Hanukkah candles,’” said Victoria Cambranes, who is running to replace City Councilmember Steve Levin, who faces term limits in 2021.
Making matters worse, Cambranes worries that the local 94th Precinct is not taking this alarming trend seriously.
“The local precinct isn’t really interested in going after those guys,” she said.
One local state legislator raised his concerns with the precinct’s commanding officer, Captain Kathleen Fahey, on April 28, asking that the Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force tackle the problem along with the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish nonprofit working to combat anti-Semitism.
“The rhetoric behind these stickers can escalate into physical violence and we will not stand for that,” said Assemblymember Joe Lentol in a written statement. “We stand together as a community to show that anti-Semitism and all forms of hate are not welcome in Greenpoint, Williamsburg, or anywhere.”
A spokesperson for the Police Department said that cops are investigating the stickering, but did not immediately confirm whether the hate crimes unit was looking into the case.
And Patriot Front stickers are not the only episodes of hateful incidents in the borough’s northern neighborhoods — which have seen anti-Asian tirades on signs at McGolrick Park amid the coronavirus pandemic, swastikas scribbled onto local restaurants, and other Nazi emblems littering local streets.
“If enough of these things are going on around you, you think twice about how safe you are,” said Cambranes.