City workers removed white nationalist stickers and anti-Semitic posters from downtown Durham Monday, and cleanup crews have been told to be on the lookout in case there are more.
A Durham resident contacted City Council member Charlie Reece after seeing stickers that said "Master Race Or Disgrace" and "Kill" by the bus station at Chapel Hill and Pettigrew streets, according to a public email from Reece, who asked the city to remove them as soon as possible.
In a separate incident, Duke professor Gavin Yamey reported seeing anti-Semitic posters along Main Street from Brightleaf Square to Duke University's East Campus.
In one a silhouetted man is pointing a gun at an image of a bearded man with a long nose, wearing a yarmulke, or Jewish skullcap, with tentacles wrapping around the earth.
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"Right of revolution," the poster says. "Your ancestors threw off foreign oppression, time for you as well."
Another poster, said "Greedy Jews" and "End Zionist Oppression."
"I was deeply disturbed and, to be honest, frightened," Yamey said. "I’m Jewish and these vile anti-Semitic threats, including the image of a gun pointing to a Jew, really rattled me.
"I lost family to pogroms and in the Holocaust," he added. "Seeing incitements to shoot Jews in my hometown is not something I ever imagined."
National Socialist Legion
The stickers and posters were labeled National Socialist Legion.
The group's website describes it as a fascist organization dedicated to preserving the "White European Race" and "the Traditional Western Nuclear Family."
NSL is a new neo-Nazi group, according to the Washington-based Anti-Defamation League. The group split off from Vanguard America, a group whose members believe the United States is a white nation; has targeted college students, particularly young men; and spread anti-Jewish hatred via fliers, stickers and posters, according to the league.
In April, the league documented NSL fliers and/or membership in California, Tennessee, Texas, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina and Colorado. Another NSL incident in Durham was reported via Tweet April 6, according to the league.
"This is an increasingly common tool used by the group to create intimidation," the league's regional director, Doron Ezickson, said Tuesday. "The tactic is meant to draw attention ... and create an appearance that they are more prevalent than their numbers would support."
The league recorded a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, compared to 2016, its highest increase in 40 years, Ezickson said. There was an almost doubling of flier incidents reported on college campuses.
On Wednesday, Rabbi Nossen Fellig, co-director of Chabad Jewish Student Center at Duke, issued a statement saying many students, alumni, community members and parents have reached out this week "to show support in response to this disgusting act of hate."
"We plan to continue to fight hatred by increasing our efforts in spreading Jewish pride and the beauty of our heritage," Fellig said. "Although hatred has existed against the Jewish people for generations, we will always continue to thrive and grow as a community and as a people."
Ezickson said he too hopes some good might come out of this week's incidents
"We want folks to know about it," he said of the posters. "If folks can respond with a gesture of coming together, then it can actually result in something positive for a community."
The materials in Durham showed up a day before a May Day/International Workers Day demonstration Tuesday night organized by the Durham Workers Assembly and other labor groups. In recent years leftist groups and neo-Nazi groups in Europe have clashed on May Day.
The materials also come about 10 days after a contentious City Council meeting, at which the mayor and council members approved a statement opposing military-style police training by foreign countries.
The statement was in response to a petition from the group Demilitarize Durham2Palestine, supported by local groups, opposing any police ties between Durham and Israel. Seven Triangle rabbis told the council they opposed the petition. The police chief has said there are no current or planned exchanges.
Reporting graffiti and vandalism
The city's Neighborhood Improvement Services department's Impact Team removes graffiti and other items defacing public property.
Residents can report vandalism/graffiti on public property to the Durham One Call Center in three ways:
▪ Durham One Call’s free smartphone app in the Apple in Google Play stores.