White supremacist group targets New Jersey colleges for recruitment

A white supremacist group that was part of high-profile protests against the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Va., in August has been hanging  recruitment posters on at least two New Jersey university campuses since September.

Leafleting this week at Rutgers University’s New Brunswick and Piscataway campuses and at Stockton University in Galloway Township last month follows an apparent trend in which a much more visible white-power movement has been turning up at colleges over the last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League and other groups.

The recruitment efforts on the campuses in New Jersey have occurred amid a flurry of racial incidents in communities and schools across eastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey over the last month.  At several high schools in the Philadelphia suburbs — Quakertown in Bucks County, Coatesville in Chester County, and Washington Township in Gloucester County — racial slurs, hate speech, and rock-throwing incidents have occurred among students.

Also this month, in northwest Montgomery County, residents received letters in the mail containing racist, white supremacist, and anti-Semitic messages, drawings, and Hitler quotations.

Officials at Rutgers said the posters spotted this week promoting a white nationalist group called Identity Evropa were found on exterior walls and inside campus buildings, and were removed.  The posters listed the group’s website and contained the wording Our Generation. Our Future. Our Last Chance over a color photo of members. Similar posters promoting the group were found and removed in September on the Stockton campus.

The Daily Targum, the Rutgers campus newspaper, reported that a hand-scrawled sign with the words Black Lives Don’t Matter also was found on a campus bus Monday, but it was not clear if that incident was related to the posters.

On its website, Identity Evropa says the purpose of its recruitment campaign is to suggest that white students question what they are being taught in college,  that the lectures they attend are “based on false assumptions,” and that they should begin looking to the white supremacy group “for answers.”

In a statement, Rutgers officials denounced the group, saying that the posters were removed because Identity Evropa is not a recognized university organization and that it violated campus rules for posting fliers, signs, and other materials. The university in its statement also noted that it “condemns all acts and statements of bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy, which have no place in our society or on our campus.”

“The fliers — and the handwritten sign found on a campus bus — do not represent the principles and values of the university, which include diversity, inclusivity, and respect for people of all backgrounds,” the Rutgers statement read.

The Anti-Defamation League has noted that last year’s academic year saw a much more visible white-power movement on campuses across the country. Much of the activity — including a reported 241 incidents since March 2016 — involved posters and leaflets that appear on campuses without any link to a person or school organization.

White supremacist groups such as  the National Policy Institute — which describes itself as committed to “promoting the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent” — last year said they had mounted campaigns to hold events on campuses to promote their agendas.

Last November, Richard Spencer, leader of the institute — who is known for his “Hail Trump” rhetoric, and who prompts his supporters to respond with Nazi salutes — announced that his group was targeting college campuses to recruit supporters. His appearances at Texas A&M, Auburn, and other academic institutions have sparked protests from Black Lives Matter and other groups.