Stickers advertising a white nationalist hate group were found along the route of Sunday’s South Side Irish Parade, according to Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th).
On Monday morning, O’Shea learned through social media posts that stickers for the American Identity Movement had been found on up to 20 light posts on Western Avenue between 99th and 119th streets.
The American Identity Movement is a renamed version of Identity Evropa, an established white nationalist group that helped organize the Unite the Right rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. Identity Evropa has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which noted in a blog post earlier this month that the group had been rebranded as the American Identity Movement.
“The racist and anti-Semitic positions espoused by this organization do not reflect the values and character of our community,” O’Shea said in a letter emailed to constituents. “We must forcefully speak out against this hatred and counter it with our own message of unity.”
O’Shea said he contacted a list of city agencies about the stickers — including Chicago Police, the Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Commission on Human Relations.
“When I contacted all departments, no one was aware of this,” O’Shea told the Sun-Times.
CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department was now aware of the stickers but had not received any formal reports or opened an investigation. O’Shea said he would push for a criminal investigation.
A spokesman for the American Identity Movement confirmed the pictured stickers were created by the group. Photos of the stickers were uploaded to the group’s official Twitter page on Monday night.
The stickers mostly include the group’s name and website and are emblazoned with seemingly patriotic imagery, like bald eagles and stars and stripes. One of the stickers urges readers to “EMBRACE YOUR IDENTITY,” while another calls for “NATIONALISM NOT GLOBALISM.”
Republican Art Jones, a Holocaust denier and activist anti-Semite, tallied 25 percent of the vote when he lost out to incumbent Democrat Dan Lipinski in the 3rd Congressional District race in November. Jones’ strongest showing in Chicago came in parts of the Mount Greenwood neighborhood in the 19th Ward, where he scored nearly 40 percent of the vote in two precincts. O’Shea said 19th Ward residents likely backed Jones because he was a Republican, noting that his ward includes many right-leaning voters.
O’Shea claimed the sticker campaign appears to have targeted “integrated communities like Beverly and Morgan Park.”
Similar propaganda popped up last year in the West Loop and the western suburbs. In February, Oak Park police ordered five men to take down an Identity Evropa banner they hung on an overpass facing Interstate 290, according to CBS 2. The banner featured skulls and warned, “Danger: Sanctuary City Ahead.”
“We live in a safe community. We call them out for being cowards and spreading hate,” said O’Shea, who is inviting residents to pick up a “Hate Has No Home in the 19th Ward” sign from his ward office at 10400 S. Western.
During the Unite the Right event, members of Identity Evropa and other white nationalist groups marched through Charlottesville shouting racist slogans and carrying torches before some attendees instigated violent clashes with counter-protesters. The event turned deadly when self-avowed white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 40 others. Identity Evropa and the group’s former leader Eli Mosley are both being sued over the rally, the SPLC said.
Despite Mosley praising Nazi Germany and endorsing the “Nazification of America,” the group was able to “successfully launder [the group’s] image enough for their members to gain access to the Republican Party,” according to the SPLC.
The strategy of packaging the hate group as a respectable political organization has not been lost on the American Identity Foundation’s current leader, Patrick Casey. During a podcast appearance last June, Casey said he is “totally in support of people getting involved in not only their local Republican Party chapter but also organizations like the College Young Republicans.”
“Like many newer alt-right organizations, Identity Evropa tries to cloak its white supremacist ideology with pseudo-intellectualism meant to appeal to young, white, male college students — no swastikas here, but clean-cut boys with fashy haircuts and pressed khakis,” the SPLC said.
Identity Evropa members have actively targeted college students in the Chicago area in the past. Over a two-week span in early 2017, multiple Identity Evropa posters were found scattered around the University of Chicago campus, according to DNA Info.
In August, University of Chicago professor Geoffrey Stone rejected university graduate turned reputed neo-Nazi Richard Spencer’s request to return to the school’s campus, the Chicago Maroon reported. According to the SPLC, Mosley has been a “regular presence” at Spencer’s other speaking engagements at colleges.