Image sent to the Daily Utah Chronicle anonymously on January 27, 2019 of neo-Nazi signage on the U's campus.

 

On Saturday evening, University of Utah President Ruth Watkins released a statement informing the public of stickers and a banner posted on campus by two different groups which are described as white supremacist organizations by the Anti-Defamation League. 

The stickers, posted at various locations around campus, contained the logo and name of Identity Evropa, an American neo-Nazi group. The banner, which was affixed from the George S. Eccles Legacy Bridge, read, “Strong Borders, Strong Nation,” and advertised a web page for another group, Patriot Front.

A bystander took a snapshot of the banner and anonymously sent it to The Daily Utah Chronicle. She claimed she saw men wearing masks put up the banner.

Under Utah code Utah Code 72-7-503, hanging banners from overpasses is illegal. In her statement, Watkins said that she “directed our facilities personnel, law enforcement, and student affairs staff to remove these postings immediately when they are discovered and asked the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Equity and Diversity to help the campus respond to and monitor these types of actions.”

According to the university, any students who may have been involved in posting the banner or stickers would be subject to disciplinary action.

“Campus police are reviewing the situation and if the individuals are students or have some connection to the university, they’d be referred to the dean of students for action,” said U spokesperson Chris Nelson.

University Police Chief Dale Brophy said if the culprits are found, criminal charges may be pursued.

“We will be looking into this incident to try and identify any parties that were associated with hanging the banner,” Brophy said. “If we locate any information leading to the identification of the individuals, we will explore all options at our disposal, including enforcement of any applicable criminal codes or university policies.”  

This is not the first time racist or divisive messages have been discovered on campus. In April 2016, some event posters featuring talks about peace between the U.S. and Islamic nations were defaced with anti-Muslim messages. Flyers reading, “Stop the rapes, stop the crime, stop the murders, stop the blacks,” were posted around campus in August 2017. In October of the same year, the construction site for Gardner Commons was vandalized with racial slurs. Posters stating “It’s okay to be white” were discovered around campus the next month.  

Following those instances, the U administration assembled an Anti-Racism Task Force. A statement released by the university at the time said it would “work on developing and deploying actions on our campus that can increase dialogue and understanding among students, staff, and faculty from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

This story will be updated as more information is made available.

c.giardinelli@dailyutahchronicle.com

@ninetta89

Christina Giardinelli
Christina Giardinelli is a writer and investigative coordinator at The Daily Utah Chronicle. Her interests include educational policies, minority representation and diversity in campus affairs. Christina will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in international studies and a double minor in French and political science.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I detest the xenophobic nativists who posted this banner as much as anyone, but Utah Code 72-7-503 does not contain a general prohibition on hanging banners of all types from overpasses. Read the law. It only applies to commercial advertising, and its provisions don’t apply at all within the boundaries of an incorporated community (e.g., Salt Lake City). There may be other legal routes to constitutionally limit the affixing of signs to transportation infrastructure, so long as they consist of reasonable time, place, manner restrictions and allow for alternative means of expression. But this statute provides no guidance for this scenario and does not empower the University police to make arrests or seek prosecutions. In fact, by publicly & illegitimately threatening prosecution under this statute, University of Utah administrators may be opening the University up to potential liability for a Section 1983 action. Doesn’t the university have a General Counsel’s office who can provide input before misstatements which potentially carry a lot of legal weight are disseminated by top brass?

    Let’s not allow right-wing extremists to erode our First Amendment protections we all cherish, and our ability to read the plain language of a statute.

    • Your first paragraph has some excellent points in it. Clarification of the Utah State Code was really needed.

      “…allow right-wing extremists to erode our First Amendment protections “? Unlike hate speech regulations which categorize anything that anyone might deem offensive as being illegal?

  2. What saddens me about these groups is how many valid points they have about corruption of both Republican and especially Democratic parties, but then their logic guess out the window in favor of racism. And not just the pretended racism Liberals dream of, but real KKK level racism. I don’t understand how people don’t get that this is a nation of immigrants, legal immigrants. Ship illegals out, sure, but if you are a black, white, or yellow person, you are an American now. On the same token, why do we need to take a week to celebrate any one race’s “excellence” or other nonsense? If you are trying to fight racism, you fail by doing “Blackout week” which actually enforces separation and segregation in my mind. How about “America week” where we celebrate American excellence?
    Bottom line, I guess I don’t understand why people on either side of this are so stupid.

    • What people dont realize is this is just the beginning. Every action has an equal or opposite reaction, this swing left in our culture has instigated more and more people to swing far right. If people dont stop and decide to come common sense soon all will be lost.

  3. The phrases “Strong Borders, Strong Nation” and “It’s Okay to be White” are not inherently racist phrases. A strong nation has to have strong borders for the security of that nation. Regardless of where someone is coming in, ensuring that those who are coming in are not seeking to do harm to a nation or its citizens is important for any nation to maintain security.

    “It’s Okay to be White” isn’t saying that it’s best to be be white, or that any other skin tone is not okay, but rather the simple statement that it is okay to be white.

    As for the organizations that put up these banners, Patriot Front is decidedly racist as can be gleaned from their own manifesto. Identity Evropa doesn’t seem to be racist but is a group concerned about national borders and keeping nations nations. I wouldn’t recommend paying much attention to the ADL these days, instead do your own research into these groups. After all, they identified the “okay” hand sign and Pepe the frog as hate symbols . . .

    Additionally, I find the following from President Ruth Watkins’s statement particularly troubling:

    “Let me be clear, while our campus is an open forum where individuals may express their views, the rhetoric used by these groups does not align with or reflect the University of Utah’s values.”

    This is reiterated later in the message:

    “At the University of Utah, we value free speech and the diversity of ideas, but we also have an ethical obligation to call out hateful speech when we see it.”

    This one one had says that we value free speech and diverse opinions, then only if it is speech and opinions that they approve of. These are contradictory statements as that anything that offends someone is considered “hate speech”.

    • Michael S. Webster. Thank you for your reasonable and thoughtful response. You are correct in saying that Identity Evropa is not a racist organization. IE is a nonprofit and nonviolent civil rights group. We stand against extremism, racism, and fascism whilst supporting a positive white racial Identity. If you are interested in defending those of European descent from unjustified attacks by the media and the radical extremist Left, you may be interested in learning more about us @: https://www.identityevropa.com/

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