Hate groups in Rhode Island and what you can do about it – Uprise RI

Posted By on March 4, 2020

Trigger warning: This piece openly discusses racism, misogyny and other hateful ideologies.

Perhaps you have seen them across Rhode Island- stickers and flyers in stark red white and blue, using the pretense of Americana to share ominous anti-immigrant messages or obliquely praise a white American master race. Littered across the public eye in Providence, Woonsocket, and West Warwick, these flyers are sparking a natural consternation and outrage among decent Rhode Islanders. Who is spreading such trash in our state, and why? We might hope its just the work of someones lone racist uncle, but the truth is more discomforting. These flyers are the overt activities of a coordinated group, one Rhode Islanders should understand and oppose with equal thoroughness.

That group calls itself Patriot Front; and in brief, they are some of the white nationalists from Charlottesville Virginia, wearing a new mask and a fresh coat of paint. Their message is fascism and race hatred, coated in a star-spangled veneer to try and lower the guard of regular Americans enough to listen. What follows is an accounting of their history and tactics, and some of the ways we can all take a stand against their brand of hate.

Patriot Front formed in the fallout of the violent, racist rally in Charlottesville Virginia on August 11th and 12th of 2017. One of the most prominent groups present on the tiki-torch side in the Charlottesville rally was Vanguard America, an overt and self-avowed neo-fascist organization. It was a Vanguard America member, James Alex Fields, who committed the infamous vehicle attack which killed anti-racism activist Heather Heyer and injured over twenty others.

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Unrepentant in their hateful and violent beliefs but understanding that their violence and open praise for fascism had damaged their public reception and reputation, Vanguard America eventually sought to reorganize under a new name and banner: Patriot Front. They kept the classic fascist symbol of an axe bundled together with several wooden rods, called a fasces, but the rest of their iconography and rhetoric was given a red-white-and-blue, flag-stamped makeover. During this time, a threatening anti-feminist Vanguard America banner was dropped at the 2018 Rhode Island Womens March. That banner drop was later claimed by Patriot Front members, cementing that they are functionally the same group. Later in the fall of 2018, Patriot Front attacked a book fair in Boston. Several months after the bookfair attack, three members of the group attacked police officers in East Boston with knives and other illegally-carried melee weapons, simply because the police saw them putting up fliers and approached to ask questions. Perhaps even more alarmingly, Patriot Front members openly fantasize about far right death squads, rape gangs, and the racial/religious/ethnic cleansing of North America in their online forums.

That said, while the danger of this group is as clear as the need to oppose it, there is no reason for Rhode Islanders to panic. While Patriot Front is a nationwide organization with triple-digit membership numbers, anti-fascist researchers believe there are probably no more than half of a dozen members of the group currently operating in Rhode Island. Their tentative foothold here can be decisively thwarted by a robust community response. While white supremacist flyering and stickering by Patriot Front and others has risen steadily in Rhode Island over the past year and a half, with a surge in activity corresponding to Trumps impeachment acquittal and the Patriot Front march in Washington DC, the placement of the flyers seems to suggest individuals or small groups quickly entering and leaving an area, rather than a brazen and sustained presence.

We have compiled a partial map of these flyerings and others based on documented tips we receive, as well as our own members encountering them.

All Rhode Islanders can have a role in keeping these hateful goons from terrorizing our most vulnerable neighbors. Heres what you can do to help:

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Hate groups in Rhode Island and what you can do about it - Uprise RI

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