Local

White supremacist posters plastered in downtown Tacoma urge reporting of undocumented residents

A poster produced by a white supremacist group is glued to a Tacoma city utility pole at South 25th and A Streets Sunday. It had already been partially torn down before being scrubbed off by Halley Knigge.
A poster produced by a white supremacist group is glued to a Tacoma city utility pole at South 25th and A Streets Sunday. It had already been partially torn down before being scrubbed off by Halley Knigge.

Posters urging citizens to report suspected undocumented residents to the federal government were posted over the weekend in downtown Tacoma, including on the door of the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource center.

Concerned citizens ripped down the posters and notified others via social media.

"Keep America American" was the headline on some of the posters that appear to be the work of a white supremacist group that formed in the wake of the 2017 white nationalist rally and counter rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The supremacist group's Twitter feed consists mostly of photos of its posters appearing in spots across the nation: Michigan, Chicago, Kentucky, Virginia, California and others.

There also are pictures dated June 30 of group members taking a hike in Washington and holding a banner that reads, "Reclaim America." The people holding the banner have their faces covered.

In Tacoma, postings to local social media accounts said the posters were on Pacific Avenue from South Tacoma Way to South 21st Street. They were also along Puyallup Avenue, said Halley Knigge, who spent two hours removing them Sunday.

The posters were on light and traffic signal poles and control boxes.

Knigge said she removed between 35 and 50 posters using a sponge and hot, soapy water.

The Tacoma woman heard about the posters over social media and wrestled with how much awareness to bring to them.

"I don't want to call more attention to these posters but we want to educate people about what these are and how to remove them," she said.

Taking down illegally posted signs is not a crime, police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

There were four kinds of posters, each with a different message. The version asking people to turn in their fellow residents was the most prevalent.

Two posters were glued to the LGBT center's main entrance. Manny Santiago, the Rainbow Center's executive director, wouldn't speculate on whether his non-profit was targeted or if the posters were a random act.

"I cannot say what the goal of the group was," Santiago said.

The building is shared with Oasis Youth Center, a LGBT organization. Executive director Seth Kirby said community leaders were gearing up for Tacoma's Pride week, which begins July 13.

"We want people to feel safe and welcomed," Kirby said.

"We are not going to let hate prevail and we stand together against hate," Santiago added.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor
  Comments