White nationalist materials found on campus, in town


Mitchell Roland, Editor-in-Chief

Stickers from Patriot Front, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calls a “racist, anti-Semitic white supremacist group,” were found on campus and in Ellensburg this week.

The stickers featured messages such as “one nation against invasion,” “better dead than red” and “not stolen, conquered” as well as the URL of a Patriot Front website. Locations where the materials were found include light poles near Science I and Brooks Library as well as outside of Calvary Baptist Church at Liberty Church.

According to the ADL, “Patriot Front’s most frequent form of activism has been the distribution of racist and anti-Semitic propaganda on college campuses and in various communities in at least 12 different states.”

Cory Kenoyer, an English graduate student and member of Not In Our Kitt Co. which is a group that aims to stop hate locally, discovered a Patriot Front sticker at the corner of Wildcat Way and University Way on Dec. 20. The sticker Kenoyer found depicted two hands in chains and the slogan “America is not for sale.” The name of Patriot Front was at the bottom of the sticker, and when Kenoyer looked the group up, he learned their ideology.

“We don’t need Nazi, far-right propaganda in our town,” Kenoyer said. “White supremacy affects us all.”

Kenoyer photographed the sticker, posted it on social media and notified Shana Kessler, a CWU staff member and fellow member of Not In Our Kitt Co. of what he found. Kessler walked through campus on Dec. 21 to see if there were additional materials and found a half dozen stickers.

“We proceeded to remove them ourselves, to make sure that before students returned they were already gone,” Kessler said. “We didn’t want their message to be effective.”

Kenoyer estimated the largest of the stickers was three inches by five inches, while the circular stickers were about the size of a baseball.

“We feel like this is something the public should know about and be aware of,” Kenoyer said. “It just doesn’t bode well to a town that has a university and should be protecting their people of color.”

Kessler said finding the stickers was disappointing though “not very surprising,” and more stickers could be distributed when students return from winter break.

“I think there is a very distinct barrier between the students on this campus and the community at large,” Kessler said. “Many members [of the community] have expressed resentment towards the university being here, towards the students being here. They have expressed that they don’t feel like the students are a part of the Ellensburg community, which is concerning.”

Kessler and Kenoyer filed a police report with the Central Washington University police department, and Kessler plans to talk to Ellensburg Police Chief Ken Wade next week. Additionally, Kenoyer has been in contact with a representative of Washington Senator Patty Murray.

CWU Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch said various groups will often visit campus to express their first amendment rights, even those which “go against a lot of people’s moral values,”

The messages on the stickers were not in and of itself illegal, Berthon-Koch said, though he added posting any type of sign or sticker was against both city code as well as university policy.

“That’s really hard sometimes because those thoughts, what’s on those stickers, may represent something that’s totally against the values of the people looking at them,” Berthon-Koch said. “And if I’m offended by it, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s against the law.”

Berthon-Koch said the CWU Police Department is always looking for “intel of any group that may cause any sort of disruption to the safety and security of our institution” and that singling a group out and saying he was specifically worried about them “is kind of premature at this point.”

“Should we get intel of any particular group that comes through, that raises concern, then we plan to deal with that,” Berthon-Koch said. “I am particularly interested in and worried about everyone’s safety at the university.”

This is not the first time Patriot Front materials have been found on a Washington campus.

Posters from the group were discovered on Western Washington University’s campus in Bellingham in June of this year, according to The Bellingham Herald. Patriot Front posters were also found in Bellingham in October 2019.