The appearance of a sticker bearing the emblem of the Patriot Front, a known American neo-fascist organization, in Chatham last week has raised concerns and consternation among village leaders. They are right on both counts.

Chatham is known for many good things. Its movie theater, bookstore and jewelry shop are among them. It is a perennial winner of annual Best of Columbia County awards. It is rich in history. Hate does not belong in Chatham.

This is the second time this year a sticker from the group has been seen in Columbia County, according to Hate Watch Report, community activist Michael Richardson said Friday. Hate Watch Report is not a group or organization but a tool for receiving news of hate or extremist groups and informing the public about them and any activity they have in the area.

We are not in a good place. Two enigmatic “announcements” from Patriot Front and recent assorted incidents of offensive graffiti are dislocating the calm exterior that Columbia County wants the public to see. We are slowly, painfully putting the coronavirus pandemic behind us and the messages telling us to be kind and spread love should win the day. Instead, the opposite is lurking below the surface, stealthy but significant.

“All we know is just what Patriot Front has been doing up and down the Hudson Valley,” Richardson said Friday. “They have been most active in and around New Rochelle, coming all the way around Poughkeepsie. Which makes us think that whoever is out putting up the stickers is trying to use that as a recruiting tool and more than likely lives down that way, but that’s only speculation.”

COVID looks to be on the run. Spring is blossoming. And summer is around the corner. Yet there is something disturbing in the air.

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