Several residents in the Lincoln Square neighborhood woke Saturday morning to find flyers on their car windshields supporting the Proud Boys, a white nationalist hate group.
At least five different flyers, three of which promoted the group, were put on cars sometime before 11:30 p.m. Friday night.
Another flyer was fashioned to look like paper currency with an image of President Donald Trump, promoting his reelection campaign. Another carried a racist reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, reading “BLM: Burn Loot Murder, Klan With A Tan.”
Aside from the currency spoof, which was the size of a dollar bill, the flyers were 4 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches and appeared to have been made on a photocopy machine.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Proud Boys as a hate group whose leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes, maintain affiliations with known extremists and are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.
In the Sept. 29 presidential debate, Trump sparked outrage when he refused to denounce the group, instead saying, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” He added, “Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”
Late Friday, 22-year-old Bailey Belin had just gotten off work when he discovered a flyer on his car, parked a couple of blocks away in the 2100 block of West Montrose.
Belin, who lives about a mile from Lincoln Square, said he had never seen anything from the Proud Boys or any other hate groups before and suggested it was likely related to the upcoming election.
“It’s gonna get worse every day with the election coming,” Belin said.
Saturday morning, Evanny Diaz said she saw a group of about 15 white men putting flyers on cars about 9:30 p.m. the night before in the 2700 block of West Giddings.
“I could hear them talking and talking about spreading out,” Diaz said. “It’s usually very quiet in this neighborhood. I’m a woman of color, I’m Hispanic, so this is very upsetting. My concern is that it’s going to elevate as Election Day approaches. This neighborhood is filled with different types of people and we won’t tolerate this.”
In addition to the 2100 block of West Montrose and the 2700 block of West Giddings, flyers were found on cars parked in the 2100 block of West Leland, 2100 block of West Sunnyside, 4500 block of West Leavitt and 4400 block of North Hamilton.
It’s not the first time messages of hate have appeared in Lincoln Square. According to posts on the Facebook group Lincoln Square Neighborhood Watch, stickers promoting the white nationalist group Maaden were spotted on street construction signs in early September.
In 2018, Block Club Chicago reported on white supremacy flyers being posted in Logan Square, and in January of this year, Ku Klux Klan flyers were delivered to several homes in suburban Orland Park, according to an NBC Chicago report.
Chicago Police spokesman Hector Alfaro said putting flyers on windshields, even to promote a hate group, breaks no laws.
Ald. Matt Martin (47th) said he was aware of the flyers and talked to the commander in the 19th police district. He encouraged anyone who received a flyer to notify police.
“I’d encourage folks to call 911 so that we become aware of the scope of things and we could cross-reference it against anything else in the area, and contact my office,” Martin said. “And if anyone happens to have videos, we’d appreciate them sharing it with the police as well so we can be proactive and make sure things go smoothly for Election Day and the days after.”