This map shows the location of extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in and around Snohomish County in 2017-2018. (Anti-Defamation League)

This map shows the location of extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in and around Snohomish County in 2017-2018. (Anti-Defamation League)

White supremacist fliers on the rise here and nationwide

The Anti-Defamation League says 2018 numbers far exceed previous propaganda distribution counts.

EVERETT — As it turned out, Everett Community College had lots of company.

White supremacist literature was left on 212 college and university campuses throughout 37 states in 2018, according to a report released earlier this week by the Anti-Defamation League. All told, there were 319 such incidents on campuses, including Ivy League schools and community colleges.

In Washington, 11 college campuses were targeted from Everett and Bremerton to Vancouver to Spokane.

This map shows the location of extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in and around Snohomish County in 2017-2018. (Anti-Defamation League)

This map shows the location of extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in and around Snohomish County in 2017-2018. (Anti-Defamation League)

The dissemination wasn’t unique to higher education, though.

The Anti-Defamation League reported 1,187 incidents in which white supremacist fliers and other paperwork it describes as propaganda were distributed in communities nationwide — up sharply from 421 the previous year.

“Posting fliers is a tried-and-true tactic for hate groups, one that enables them to spread hateful ideas and sow fear across an entire community,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director. “Hate groups were emboldened in 2018, but their increasing reliance on hate leafleting indicates that most of their members understand this is a fringe activity and are unwilling to risk greater public exposure or arrest.”

The literature included everything from veiled white supremacist language to explicitly racist images and words. It often featured a recruitment element, and frequently targeted groups such as Jews, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants and the LGBTQ community.

Four leafleting incidents were reported in Snohomish County last year, including two in Everett and one each in Arlington and Marysville.

Last May, more than a dozen fliers affiliated with the Patriot Front appeared on the EvCC campus over a weekend when custodial staff weren’t working. They were attached to a Ramadan sign as well as pillars and artwork on the campus.

The same month, two people were spotted attaching fliers to yard signs that promoted unity in north Everett. The yard signs displayed the same message in English, Spanish and Arabic: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.”

The fliers, which included the website bloodandsoil.org, were connected to the Patriot Front. Blood and Soil reflects a philosophy from Nazi Germany, “Blut und Boden.” It was chanted by torch-carrying white nationalists who marched at the University of Virginia and at a “Unite the Right” rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein received this card in the mail at her Everett home in 2018, from the Texas-based neo-Nazi organization Patriot Front. It arrived a month after Muhlstein wrote about the group’s fliers being posted at Everett Community College and in her neighborhood. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein received this card in the mail at her Everett home in 2018, from the Texas-based neo-Nazi organization Patriot Front. It arrived a month after Muhlstein wrote about the group’s fliers being posted at Everett Community College and in her neighborhood. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Patriot Front as “a blend of traditional white-supremacist ideology, alt-right sensibilities and activism, and militia-style armed insurrection.” It also reported 28 organizations it classifies as hate groups in Washington state in 2018.

In Marysville in September, the Patriot Front left fliers proclaiming: “Keep America American” and “Life, liberty and the pursuit of victory.”

In Arlington, an unknown group or individual distributed fliers in July with the words “Mass Media” in the center of a Star of David.

Not included in those counts were incidents that occurred in January of this year, when plastic bags weighted with rocks and containing a “Better Dead Than Red” flier appeared in neighborhoods across Puget Sound, including Edmonds and Everett.

Miri Cypers, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Pacific Northwest office, said the region has a long history of hate group activity and there’s been a resurgence in recent times. In many cases, groups are using more ambiguous words and images to sugarcoat their white supremacy.

A stop sign was defaced with a spray-painted swastika at the corner of 25th Street and Rucker Avenue in 2009. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

A stop sign was defaced with a spray-painted swastika at the corner of 25th Street and Rucker Avenue in 2009. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

“A lot of their messaging is murky, but when you read what they want to do, it’s pretty clear they are messages of intolerance,” she said.

The Anti-Defamation League tracks incidents ranging from homicides and assaults to propaganda postings through a number of methods. They include verified reports from people in different communities, experts who monitor hate groups through social media and some news media coverage.

“It tends to be comprehensive, but we know there are incidents that are left off,” Cypers said.

One incident not on the organization’s list was an assault involving white supremacist suspects accused of beating a black disc jockey Dec. 8 at the Rec Room Bar near Lynnwood.

Detectives suspect the group gathered here from all across the country — Oregon, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina — to remember Robert Jay Mathews, who led a white terrorist group, The Order, in the 1980s. Mathews made elaborate plans to stoke a race war.

The weekend of the bar fight marked 34 years since Mathews’ fatal gunfight with the FBI on Whidbey Island. Charges are pending.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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