HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — A white supremacist group recently targeted two universities in the Shenandoah Valley as part of an ongoing campaign where members of the group place unapproved promotional images throughout college campuses.
One of the stickers placed on light poles on the JMU campus by Identity Evropa, shown to WHSV by JMU staff
The group, called 'Identity Evropa,' is classified as a white supremacist organization by the Anti-Defamation League and designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Their mission statement says they "are a generation of awakened Europeans who have discovered that we are part of the great peoples, history, and civilization that flowed from the European continent."
They have described themselves as an "identitarian organization," but have directly stated their goal is to carry out a culture war to create a "90 percent white" America. Their founder, Nathan Damigo, expressly forbade Jews from joining the group, and their application form asks for people of "non-Semitic heritage."
Present at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville that turned deadly on August 12, Identity Evropa has been credited with popularizing the phrase "You will not replace us" among white supremacist and white nationalist organizations.
On October 3, the group posted a series of photos to their Twitter account showing a variety of propaganda stickers they had placed on light poles across the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg.
The posters depict classical Greek sculptures with short slogans overlaid encouraging cultural elitism, like "Serve Your People," "Our Destiny Is Ours," and "Protect Your Heritage."
The group's name is listed in smaller print at the bottom.
Along with the posters, in some places, the group's logo was included: a blue and white dragon's eye, an ancient European symbol representing the choice between good and evil.
They were placed near Bridgeforth Stadium and U-Rec, among other areas on JMU's campus.
On October 1, similar photos were posted, showing some of their posters on bulletin boards at Shenandoah University in Winchester.
Following that incident, Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons, president of Shenandoah University, sent a letter to students, faculty and staff, stating "I want to make it clear that Shenandoah University does not tolerate hate in any way, shape or form. White supremacy and racism have no place at Shenandoah University."
Fitzsimmons also asked anyone who saw an Identity Evropa flyer or sticker to contact the university’s Department of Public Safety immediately at 540-678-4444.
"I want to say unequivocally that our university has not invited this group to campus, nor approved them to use our facilities, nor to post flyers or stickers," Fitzsimmons continued. "The mission and values of Shenandoah University do not condone nor support organizations that seek to define one group as superior to others based on color, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual preference.
Shenandoah's goal is to foster a campus culture of compassion, responsibility, advocacy and justice, which we are inspired to replicate in communities locally, nationally and globally. Let us act together as one united community against hate in all its forms.
A truly great education embraces dialogue and disagreement, but not hateful division and racist denigration."
In Harrisonburg, however, the posters were removed before most members of the campus community ever knew they were there.
And that's not due to any of their content; rather, it's because of where they were placed.
Bill Wyatt, Director of Communications at JMU, explained to WHSV that the university has a strict policy against any placement of posters on campus light poles. Every morning, a facilities crew walks the campus and takes down any materials attached to those poles.
That crew recovered five Identity Evropa posters on October 3.
Wyatt stressed that the hate group is not a recognized organization on JMU's campus and never will be, but, if those posters had been placed in "approved areas" on campus, like certain bulletin boards, it's possible they may have been approved, because posters are not approved based on content.
The university also denounced the views expressed by Identity Evropa. They have received national recognition for their campus efforts to promote diversity.
These events are not isolated, however; they were part of a campaign Identity Evropa has been carrying out for some time, which they call #ProjectSiege to "fight back and challenge" the narrative they claim is being propagated on college campuses. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were at least 65 incidents where propaganda was posted by the organization at schools across 19 states. WHSV reached out to Eli Mosley Kline, the current leader of the group, for a statement on why JMU and Shenandoah University were chosen, but received no response.
These events are not isolated, however; they were part of a campaign Identity Evropa has been carrying out for some time, which they call #ProjectSiege to "fight back and challenge" the narrative they claim is being propagated on college campuses.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were at least 65 incidents where propaganda was posted by the organization at schools across 19 states.
WHSV reached out to Eli Mosley Kline, the current leader of the group, for a statement on why JMU and Shenandoah University were chosen, but received no response.