HUDSON — Several “White Lives Matter” stickers were found in Columbia County over the weekend.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, White Lives Matter is a white supremacist phrase that originated in early 2015 as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Over the weekend stickers from the group were found in Hudson, Stockport and Valatie.
“Speculating about what’s going on, is it one person is it two people? It’s hard to say,” local activist Michael Richardson said. “Knowing that there were three stickers put up, in three very different places, suggests that somebody is putting stickers out there trying to recruit.”
The sticker found in Hudson was reported to Hate Watch Report, and online tool used for reporting and receiving news about hate or extremist groups, Richardson said. A local resident found the sticker affixed to a bench in Hudson at the boat launch parking lot.
Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson said he had seen a white lives matter sticker in Valatie affixed to a gas tank.
“I think it’s disappointing,” Johnson said Monday. “I don’t really have strong thoughts because it’s just a piece of paper,” Johnson said. “I try not to go too deep into these things because I don’t want to encourage people to do more than just stickers.”
Richardson said another sticker had been found recently in the brickyard in Stockport. He said it differed from the one that had been photographed in Hudson.
The stickers have URL addresses for a White Lives Matter site. The site contains a number of videos of stickers being put up.
A post on the site reads, “So far, there have been over 25 rallies, 100 banner drops as well as over 1 million stickers being put up in our first eight months of activity. We look forward to increasing this tenfold in 2022.”
The site states White Lives Matter is decentralized and anonymous. It also encourages people to get active in their local area.
A reason some hate groups use stickers is for recruitment, Richardson said. Another group — The Patriot Front — often uses stickers as a method to recruit new members. He said until now he had not heard of the White Lives Matter group being active in New York State.
“Many organizations have built themselves up this way, even back to the Ku Klux Klan or whoever you want to compare to,” Richardson said. “So we are kind of of the mind that that’s what’s happening here with White Lives Matter, that there’s two or three people that are identifying with White Lives Matter as an organization and they’ve put some stickers out to see who might respond.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, White Lives Matter was formed as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement. They report it is not easy to track WLM’s evolution and leadership structure, but two white supremacists and the Texas-based Aryan Renaissance Society, a neo-Nazi group, appear to be the main people behind it. Those groups have been hosting WLM rallies and engaging in WLM flyer distributions since 2015.
“It’s important that we are aware that this type of activity is not something that happens far, far away from us,” Richardson said. “This is not something that happens in the south it happens in our backyard.”