Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group, tweeted photos of its stickers posted on the campuses of Lynchburg College and Liberty University, as well as the University of Virginia in nearby Charlottesville. According to the Identity Evropa Twitter account, the stickers were posted in Lynchburg on Sept. 3.
Bryan Gentry, LC spokesman, confirmed one sticker was found and removed from the LC campus Sept. 4. On Wednesday a statement was emailed to the campus community by Hayward Geunard, LC vice president and dean for student development, regarding the incident.
“We have no evidence that suggests this sticker was posted by a member of our campus community, and we have not detected any further activity here. Placing the sticker seems to have been an isolated activity seeking attention. Based on advice previously given by local law enforcement, we chose to monitor the situation without giving the group the gratification of publicity. However, other outside groups have begun to reference the sticker, so it is important to publicly reaffirm our values and explain our response,” reads part of the message sent to students, faculty and staff.
The statement also noted the LC Safety and Security team met with the Lynchburg Police Department following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, which saw the UVa, campus overrun with torch-wielding protesters, including members of Identity Evropa, identified by their insignia, a triangle that represent a dragon’s eye.
According to the statement, the purpose of the meeting with LPD was to discuss how LC could partner with law enforcement to respond to similar attempts to hold “unwelcome protests” on its campus.
“As a private institution, we are not required to open our campus to outside groups. We encourage civil discourse and non-coercive dissent, but we reject violence, bigotry, and oppression,” the message from Guenard concludes.
In a statement provided by Liberty University on Wednesday, the school said it was not aware of Identity Evropa stickers on campus, and a search by the Liberty Police Department could not locate any. Though glares and shadows on the images make them appear authentic, LU officials said the tweeted photos were photoshopped.
When asked about the authenticity, a university spokesman said LUPD determined it “appears as though” the photos were altered, though the photos were not extensively examined, he said. A News & Advance examination of the photos in Photoshop did not show any telltale signs of image manipulation.
“It is unfortunate not only that groups like this exist, but that they would use trickery in an attempt to associate themselves with schools like ours,” the statement from Liberty concluded.
Students at both schools condemned the message of Identity Evropa.
“My reaction to the stickers was a bit of outrage, as well as disgust. I know that these posters would not be posted by a student, and that white nationalist groups are not welcome on a campus that prides itself in being a diverse, progressive, and inclusive environment,” Zachary Herendeen, a senior economics major at Lynchburg College, wrote to The News & Advance.
Herendeen said he had not seen the sticker posted on campus but heard about it from friends as well as the email sent to the LC community.
Sam Herrmann, a senior strategic communications major at Liberty, said he had not seen the stickers and would be surprised at the sight.
“I think that if anyone was to post them on campus, they would be swiftly met by many with rejection, and they would be called out for promoting something so opposed to Christianity and the Gospel,” Herrmann wrote to The News & Advance.
The sustained Identity Evropa propaganda effort is known as “Project Siege,” and according to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks anti-Semitic activity across the U.S., there were 65 instances of Identity Evropa propaganda being spread on college campuses during the 2016-17 school year. Recent schools shown on the Identity Evropa Twitter feed include the University of Alabama, University of Illinois, Eastern Michigan University and others across the U.S.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified Identity Evropa as a hate group, and its founder, Nathan Damigo, as a white supremacist.
Identity Evropa was launched in California in 2016 by Damigo and was one of numerous white supremacist groups at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last month. According to various interviews given by Damigo, the group claims more than 300 members nationally.
Identity Evropa aims to add to that number via on-campus recruiting, according to a blog post by Damigo detailing the group’s recruiting plans.
“#ProjectSiege is the beginning of a long term cultural war of attrition against academia’s Cultural Marxist narrative that is maintained and propagated into society through the indoctrination of the future managerial class. If we are to be successful in combating [sic] the current paradigm, it is imperative that we create space for our ideas at universities across the country,” Damigo blogged in October 2016.
Identity Evropa now is led by Eli Mosley, who took over the organization in August. Contacted via social media, Identity Evropa referred all media inquiries to Mosley, who did not reply to a message from The News & Advance seeking comment on the stickers at LU and LC as of press time.
— The (Lynchburg) News & Advance