At least five times so far this year, and six times last year, anonymous neo-Nazi thugs have littered hundreds of residential lawns in select Colorado Springs neighborhoods with the kind of trash that should, ostensibly, embarrass any city leader.
In the dead of night, they pan out across the city, tossing plastic bags containing racist fliers and weighted down with rocks, as if they were newspaper deliveries, to the Broadmoor, the West Side, and Briargate. The fliers arrive courtesy of the National Alliance, a West Virginia-based organization that is described by the Anti-Defamation League as the most dangerous organized hate group in the United States. The fliers have different themes, but their anti-black, anti-Latino, anti-Jew message is constant.
Here's one announcing White History Month: "Hey White kids! We know school's got you down with endless celebration of fraudulent heroes like Martin Luther King while ignoring the men who really made history and created our civilization. ... Right now our civilization is under attack and White people are threatened with extinction from Third World invasion and race-mixing propaganda."
Or how about this one, depicting a wide-eyed, blond-haired girl in braids under the headline, "Missing: A future for White Children in America. Description: Blond or brown hair, fair skin, innocent, inquisitive, intelligent, trusting personality. Her future has been abducted by corrupt politicians and minority special-interest groups. There will be no future for her in the Third World America our nation's enemies are planning ..."
Last weekend, residents living northeast of downtown woke up and found the flier pictured at left on their lawns.
Colorado Springs Police Lt. Skip Arms says the intelligence department is certainly aware of what appears to be an organized, ongoing campaign to distribute the racist material. But, without any suspects or description of the perpetrators, they are hard pressed as to what to do about it. Indeed, the police are a bit stymied about what charge they could pursue, even if they did have a suspect. Trespassing? Possibly, though there would need to be proof. Vandalism? Probably not, as there have been no reports of physical damage to property. Harassment? Only if someone can show they were specifically targeted.
As Arms pointed out, it is incumbent on community groups and elected leaders to address the problem.
Which brings us to Citizens Project, a local group that tracks these sorts of things. On May 27, and then again this week, Citizens Project's Executive Director Greg Borom approached the City Council with a resolution that he wanted the elected leaders to adopt.
Specifically, Borom called on the City Council to:
1. Recognize the free speech rights of the National Alliance and supporters, but ... condemn the racism and discrimination they promote and;
2. ... assert a message of inclusion and tolerance by proclaiming our support for community efforts working to make Colorado Springs a city where all individuals feel safe and secure regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief, ability, age, gender and sexual orientation.
But the council isn't exactly beating down the doors to publicly denounce the National Alliance, and this Tuesday, Mayor Lionel Rivera said he was unclear about the group or the significance of the plastic bag of rocks that Borom had waved around during the council meeting. "I have not really paid much attention to the request before because we were considering higher priorities," Rivera said.
This much is clear: In proposing such a sweeping resolution, Citizens Project has not effectively illustrated the import of the organized neo-Nazi campaign being waged on the city. And, our elected city leaders, possibly turned off by its unnecessary reference to "sexual orientation" -- the conservative equivalent of the boogeyman -- has failed to grasp its significance.
Rivera and Borom both pointed out that the National Alliance has a free speech right to express their viewpoints, however vile. That's not the point.
Let's contrast our own city with Northampton, Mass., where a dozen leaders gathered on May 5 to loudly denounce a similar National Alliance campaign being waged there -- and had asked the local district attorney's office to determine whether the leafleting in that city constituted a hate crime.
"We have a First Amendment in this country so people have a right to say this stuff," declared Northampton Mayor Clare Higgins. "But we also have a right to say it's trash."