In bold black font, the flier posted on a Long Island City streetlamp read, “A notice to all citizens of the United States of America: It is your civic duty to report any and all illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They have broken the law.” In smaller font at the bottom, the flyer urges people to call 1-866-DHS-2ICE.
But the sign was not an actual product of the government, but the work of a white supremacist group known as Vanguard America. By law, no one is permitted to post fliers and other signage on lampposts and other city property.
In a video posted on Twitter on Oct. 7, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer ripped down the flier from the side of a traffic light control box at the intersection of 35th Street and Skillman Avenue. The flier appeared to have been freshly posted.
Saw this trash on #SkillmanAvenue during my a.m. run. Tore them up. We are a #SanctuaryCity & we need to be a sanctuary neighborhood. All Immigrants are welcome here. If you see these, feel free to take them down. Be a sanctuary neighbor. #QueensValues must trump #TrumpValues! pic.twitter.com/9mtuZeW1Cn
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) October 7, 2018
Vanguard America has admitted to creating the signs but did not know who was responsible for putting them up in Sunnyside, according to Van Bramer.
“White supremacist propaganda that encourages the racial profiling and harassment of immigrant families is against our Queens values and will not be tolerated in Sunnyside,” Van Bramer said during an Oct. 9 press conference. “I stand with immigrant leaders in New York City and across our country against hate and all racist white supremacist groups that feel emboldened by President Trump’s inhumane agenda.”
Identical flyers were found in by Washington State University students in February which was reported on by The Spokesman-Review. Stylistically similar anti-Muslim signs were also located at the University of Texas around the same time, according to KXAN.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights advocacy group, hate groups are the rise in the United States. In 2017, the nonprofit found 954 hate groups in the country, 37 more than what they found in 2016. SPLC has even mapped out locations of hate groups across the United States to demonstrate their prevalence. On the interactive map there is a cluster of dots in New York.
This story was updated on Oct. 9 at 1:20 p.m.