Racist poster found by the entrance of the Arts Building on the U campus by Mohan Sudabattula on Wednesday Feb 13. (Courtesy of Mohan Sudabattula)

 

The University of Utah campus was once again targeted by white supremacist propaganda, Mohan Sudabattula told The Daily Utah Chronicle in an interview held on President’s Day. Sudabattula, a student at the U who works for on-campus student housing, said that he discovered, photographed and took down racist posters on the night of Wednesday, Feb. 13 outside of the east entrance of the Arts Building located at 375 S 1530 E.

The U student tweeted images of the posters on Sunday, saying that he no longer feels safe on campus. Sudabattula wrote, “Action needs to be taken.”

The posters showed the logo of Patriot Front, an organization categorized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group. The white supremacist propaganda read “Not stolen, Conquered,” a reference to the group’s ideology that glorifies the history of colonization, massacres and the disruption of Native American civilization and culture by European settlers.

Sudabattula says that this ideology is particularly troublesome at a university which calls their sports teams “Utes” and boasts a drum and feather as their logo. The U holds a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ute tribe to allow for this.

This is not the first time that racist propaganda has surfaced on campus. The same group was also responsible for hanging a banner from the Legacy Bridge in January, during the same week that stickers from Identity Evropa (IE) were discovered on campus. Racist posters were pinned to various locations on campus in August of 2017 by Vanguard America and the construction at the Gardner building was vandalized with a racial slur in that same year.

The U administration has released statements condemning these groups’ messages in the aftermath of each incident. Following an action taken at the Block U last week by members of Identity Evropa, another SPLC and ADL designated hate group, U spokesperson Chris Nelson told The Chronicle that the administration was keeping an eye on the activities of these groups.

Sudabattula says he was previously involved with the reporting of other such propaganda on campus but says that this time he has decided to make the information available to the public as opposed to reporting only to the administration.

He feels that the U administration has not taken a hard enough stance. “The U needs to do a better job of one identifying these individuals,” Sudabattula said, adding that he believes “It’s come to the point where there needs to be some kind of disciplinary action.”

Sudabattula, whose family hails from India, says that although he does not feel personally in danger, the message that “people who look like [him] do not belong on campus” is “very distressing and disruptive to the learning environment.”

Although IE and Patriot Front claim to be separate organizations, both have twice posted white supremacist and anti-immigration propaganda on the U campus around the same time. Patrick Casey, the self-identified executive director of IE, told The Chronicle last week that the events were unrelated and that the groups are not associated.

Patriot Front is reported to have strict membership guidelines that prohibit involvement with other groups. 19-year-old Thomas Ryan Rousseau founded the group after branching away from Vanguard America — another designated hate group — of which he had been a leader.

Vanguard American and IE were both heavily involved with the Unite the Right extremist rallies that took place in Charlottesville in 2017 and left many counter-protesters wounded and one dead after a member of Vanguard America, James Alex Fields Jr., drove his vehicle into a group of people.

Vanguard leaders have since attempted to paint Fields as a non-member, but photographs have shown him wearing the group’s logo while marching side by side with other members of the group, including Rousseau.

Both Casey and Rousseau have since re-branded their groups to accomplish what Rousseau calls “fence sitting”— coaxing those who are unwilling to outwardly be associated with white supremacist ideologies into their fold.

Casey told The Chronicle last week that he is not racist but rather an identitarian who advocates for peaceful action promoting a white supermajority.

Despite these groups’ attempts to re-brand, neither Casey nor Rousseau admonished the violent actions of their groups’ former members.

During demonstrations in Berkeley, California, Nathan Damigo, the previous leader of IE, was caught on video punching a young woman and during the deadly Unite the Right rally and he was also filmed charging at riot police. Another former IE leader, Eli Mosley, was filmed on the phone with police saying that he would unleash 200 of his “people with guns” on the counter-protestors if they did not intervene.

Casey told The Chronicle that neither of these members were currently associated with IE but that their actions had been “in self-defense, therefore not violent.”

Following the Unite the Right rally, the SPLC reports that Rousseau told members of Vanguard America through a post to the group’s server that “The statement [issued by Vanguard America about Fields] never said that what he did was wrong.”

c.giardinelli@dailyutahchronicle.com

@C_Giardinelli

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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. While I will never join our agree with such a group, it is so refreshing to see opinions that we as students are compelled to believe should be the general publics opinion. I was likely one of the first to see these on Wednesday, and frankly would encourage any and all groups to put material like this into circulation. I Willie all of it, even if it is hate speech against my race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion.

  2. Haha I seen these. It’s funny one of there flyers say when is your speech going to be hate speech. Sounds like they hit it in the nail.

  3. The argument that these things should be banned – or that those responsible should be disciplined – is an emotional reaction. While insensitive, it’s simply a hostile opinion that should be challenged with sound argument–not censorship or discipline for those who posted it. To be clear, I think the poster is distasteful. However, I think it’s better to err on the side of free speech, even if I don’t agree with what someone is saying.

  4. How is the poster racist? Many of those who oppose any kind of reasonable restriction on immigration seem to love to respond with,
    “You don’t have a right to say who can and can not come into the country or , since all this land was stolen from Native Americans.”

    This assumption that we “stole” the land is an intellectually-weak and ignorant view of how the world works. Since we live in a largely peaceful and prosperous country, our perspective of how life and politics functioned for much of history is not accurate to reality. War and conquest were very much common place for all of history as a way to gain power and resources. All peoples went to war for these reasons, and most went to war with other peoples different from their own. I guarantee you, the tribes who occupied what would become Utah did not always live in it and they at some point conquered the land they came to live on from other tribes, who did the same before them. The idea that the conquest by Europeans is somehow uniquely evil is absurd. Whether the Europeans were very friendly to the natives or not very nice at all shouldn’t matter since the tribes who were conquered presumably acted very similarly to who they took the land. Unfortunately, the pre-European history of Utah is not well-documented, so it is unclear who first occupied the land, who conquered it from whom, etc. However, what we do know is that what is today Utah does not experience war, and it is peaceful and prosperous place that boasts a strong economy with good jobs that are able to raise large families. These ideal living conditions have seemed to make us numb to how life was for much of history: much worse than what it is now.

    • Well said. I’m from Texas, and it too was occupied by various groups before the Americans won it from Mexico in 1836, in the Texas Revolution. But the real rulers of Texas outside the towns, farms & plantations were the Comanches, who had themselves only entered Texas in the mid-18th century, conquering, exterminating, & defeating all who stood in their way, including Spaniards & Mexicans. It took another 40 yrs for the Americans to finally defeat them. These Americans weren’t particularly nice; they certainly weren’t PC, but they created a pretty nice place to live – for everyone – today. Their descendants have nothing to be ashamed of, and much to be proud of. I think that’s one of the basic messages of Identity Evropa – a recognition of the basic facts of history, & a refusal to apologize for it.

  5. Thanks for exercising your right to free speech, IE! In an age where authoritarian types want to shove multiculturalism down everyone’s throats and sic the police on anyone who disagrees, it’s great to see Whites actively participating in promoting our race.

  6. “Conquered! Not stolen” is an easier slogan to swallow for my White fragility. In fact I think it was the name of my history book in high school. The same history book that justified slavery as well as colonization and normalized patriarchy. That was awhile ago and it was refreshing to see critical pedagogy and analysis begining to emerge in this country.
    But alas, the pendulum has swung and those cognitive dissonanaces and bias that occur in the most primitive parts of our brain are back: nationalism, jingoism, and ethnocentrism.

  7. Yeah what about freedom of speech!?

    But to be honest and fair these White supremacist should update their propaganda to read: “Not Stolen, Conquered.. by European viruses and diseases.”

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