Bremerton residents reported seeing a number of signs last week supporting the white nationalist group Patriot Front posted alongside city streets.
The posters bore messages like “Not Stolen, Conquered,” shown next to a map of the United States, “Better Dead Than Red,” “Resurrection Through Insurrection,” and “Blood and Soil,” a nationalist phrase used by Nazis in support of an ethnically German state.
Luke Klue, a mechanics instructor at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, said he was driving home from work Nov. 29 when he saw “five or six” of the signs on Naval Avenue, heading west.
“I got off work and went to check them out,” he said after seeing photos of the signs on social media. “They were there.”
The posters appeared to be affixed with tape and had all been torn down by the time Klue arrived. First reports of the posters came on Nov. 25.
“It’s those people,” Klue said. “They’re trying to repackage white nationalism into something that looks nicer.”
Another person who works at a tattoo parlor in Bremerton requested anonymity in discussing the posters.
“A bunch of buddies of mine have been taking those down,” he said.
Patriot Front supports the formation of a white “ethnostate” in the U.S., and, according to its website, “securing the American homeland against the invasion of foreign nations and interests.” Photos of loyalists published by the group show demonstrators holding banners that read “Deport Them All” and “America Is Our Birthright.”
The organization splintered from the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America following the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. last August, according to media reports. An internal feud between Patriot Front leader Thomas Rousseau and Dillon Irizarry of Vanguard America led to the split, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported.
Social media responses proliferated after the signs were posted. In one photo, a sign reading “Resurrection through Insurrection” was affixed to a lamppost – adjacent to the City of Bremerton logo.
It was not the first time signs espousing white nationalism surfaced in Bremerton. Last year, Patriot Front posters were spotted at Olympic College, former student body president Shannon Turner told the Kitsap Sun, prompting the college to change their policies regarding fliers from off-campus groups.
And in September, a public forum organized by the group Kitsap Aware entitled “White Nationalists in Kitsap County” was canceled after organizers feared violence from counter-protesters. A Facebook group opposing the forum – a lecture and discussion with researchers on the rise of white supremacist movements – indicated opponents would attend and disrupt the event.
Lt. Mike Davis of the Bremerton Police Department said law enforcement warned Olympic College prior to the public meeting.
“We had a hand in advising them that it was probably going to be violent,” Davis said.
Bremerton Police Department said it was not aware of the Patriot Front posters discovered about two weeks ago.
Davis said without a specific threat or credible harassment, the police had little to pursue.
“It’s not illegal for them to post that stuff,” he said.
“If the poster has specific dates to an event,” he added, “when they are going to come and do their thing – that’s when you start.”
In those cases – where harassment or a specific threat of violence is evident – local police involve the Washington State Patrol, and in some cases, the FBI.
“When threats become specific and rise to the level of federal hate crimes, we’ll get the Feds involved,” Davis said.
Klue said he was aware of the presence of radical right-wing groups in the area. He said while their platform espouses hateful, and even dangerous, views, they make efforts to blend into the political landscape.
“They’re just trying to make everybody think that white racists are cool guys, just trying to be nice,” he said.