Despite reports that a white nationalist group recently placed posters in a few cities and towns in Vermont, law enforcement officials haven’t seen or been able to identify any of the group’s supposed members.
The latest posting alleged to have come from Patriot Front showed up on an electric box outside a Shaw’s food store in Williston, posted over a “Bernie for U.S. Senate 2018” sticker. The poster asked people to report “any and all illegal aliens,” and it included a tip line for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
But aside from those posters and a brief appearance of five alleged Patriot Front activists at Burlington City Hall in 2018, the group appears to have no verified presence in Vermont.
Williston Police Sgt. Bart Chamberlain says the group’s existence is in doubt.
“This is my 26th year that I’ve worked here, (and) in all my professional career I am not aware of any members of such group that reside here in Williston,” Chamberlain told True North in an interview. “That’s not to say they don’t rent a hall or have group meetings here, but not to my knowledge.”
Adam Silverman, spokesman for the Vermont State Police, said he believes the group is located in Vermont based on the appearance of posters.
“The Vermont State Police is aware of the presence of the Patriot Front white nationalist hate group in Vermont,” he wrote in an email to True North. “We are continuing to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate appearances of their literature in various locations throughout the state.”
While most of the posters attributed to the group have appeared in Burlington, local police did not respond to TNR’s repeated inquiries about where members meet or live in the city.
On the group’s Twitter account, one tweet boasts of having placed a poster in Colchester, Vermont. The ambiguous poster reads “Money does not rule you” and displays two fists handcuffed by a dollar sign.
— Patriot Front (@PatriotFront3) August 27, 2019
Verification of the existence of “white supremacist” groups in other parts of the country has been similarly hard to pinpoint. In Billings, Montana, where racist posters have been found, Billings Mayor Bill Cole attributed the activity to one or two “bad apples.”
Patriot Front does not have a social media presence on Facebook, making it even harder to track down the group. True North’s attempts to contact the group through the Patriot Front website were not successful.
The Anti-Defamation League, which suggests on its website that Patriot Front has members, goes on to admit the persons who actually put up flyers are surprisingly never identified.
“Under intensified public scrutiny, white supremacists are facing a Catch-22: As individuals, they want to remain anonymous and invisible, but they need to promote their organizations and ideology. Their solution [is] increased propaganda efforts, which allow them to maximize media and online attention, while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests, and public backlash,” the ADL website states.
The Patriot Front website mentions a small “flash demonstration” at Burlington City Hall in 2018, but just a few “activists” are pictured. Five people can be seen in masks and hoodies, similar to the wardrobe of antifa members.
According to a Burlington Free Press report from February of 2018, the demonstration lasted “maybe 10 minutes, not even,” according to a witness.