GERMANTOWN — A Patriot Front recruiting sticker was reported seen in Palatine Park in Germantown, a local watchdog group said Wednesday.
A sticker found in the park has since been removed. This is latest known Patriot Front sticker discovery; a total of four have been found in the county in recent months.
“This is an anti-Semitic group,” local activist Michael Richardson said. “At a different time, Patriot Front would be the KKK, they are anti-Semitic, they’re anti-Catholic, they’re white nationalist.”
Hate Watch Report, a tool for receiving and reporting news about hate or extremist groups and informing the public about them, said last week a sticker was found in the Village of Chatham; in February, another sticker was found in the Village of Chatham and one was reported in Philmont, Richardson said.
The sticker in Palatine Park was reported to Hate Watch Report through their website, Richardson said. The site has a page where anyone can make a report.
“It’s easy to think that there’s some young kid around who is and on the web and wants to identify with this,” Richardson said. “And it’s easy to think someone just got some stickers and decided to put them up on a pole someplace, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.”
Germantown Town Supervisor Robert Beaury said the sticker was removed and destroyed by a maintenance crew when they saw it.
“It must have been put up in the evening and the very next morning it was taken down,” Beaury said. “It was pretty small, but that dosen’t mean anything, it has no place here in Germantown.”
Beaury said it was disturbing to him that this kind of thing could happen in any community, and that it has no place in a civilized society.
There have been no other similar incidents in Germantown that he is aware of, Beaury said.
“Free speech does not mean you can incite violence with hate,” Beaury said. “There are limits and that’s embodied in Supreme Court cases. You can’t just say whatever you want, and hate has no place.”
The sticker in February in the village of Chatham was discovered by Richardson. He said he was out walking and saw a person who could have been in their 40s walk up to a pole and put something up, then got back into a car and left.
The Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization founded in 1913, describes Patriot Front as a white supremacist group that supports racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance under the guise of preserving the “ethnic and cultural origins” of their European ancestors.
Patriot Front is known for using stickers and leaflets as methods of recruitment, Richardson said.
“It’s to lure people onto their website. And that’s somewhat unique, because usually they try to get you to come to a meeting, like Oath Keepers, or the Proud Boys or almost like a fight club,” Richardson said. “You kind of know each other and end up going to a meeting. Patriot Front is not like that. They seem to want to lure you onto their website, and then start getting you into the propaganda.”
Patriot Front is prominent in the Warwick and New Rochelle areas of the Hudson Valley. Richardson said he is surprised to see their stickers this far north.
Richardson said he is not aware of any local Patriot Front actors, but there have been some reported in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester County.
The sticker found in Palatine Park reads “Patriot Front Life-Liberty-Victory” and it shows the symbol of Patriot Front, a “fasces.” The symbol represents a bundle of sticks or rods into which an ax is inserted or tied to, according to the League. This symbol dates back to ancient Rome, where leaders used it to represent power and government authority.
In the early 20th century it was adopted by Benito Mussolini for the fascist movement. In the late 2000s American white supremacists began using the symbol.