Racially charged posters with a message linked to “trolling” attempts by alt-right and white supremacist groups have turned up in New Westminster.
Twitter user Vanessa Woznow snapped a photo of the posters, which read, “It’s okay to be white,” after spotting them on telephone poles near the intersection of 8th Avenue and Royal Avenue, not far from city hall.
“They were lining the street on both sides… they were on street poles. I tore down three, but I could see that others had been torn down as well,” Woznow said.
“My stomach just dropped. It’s really horrifying to see something like that. The language might seem innocuous, but I know that it’s language used by white supremacist organizations.”
New Westminster police say they are aware of the posters, have opened a file and will be monitoring them.
Similar posters were spotted on Thursday at the University of Manitoba, and the university’s women and gender department received a fax with the same message from someone identifying themselves as “A. Wyatt Mann.”
Posters with the same message appeared at the University of Toronto in November 2017.
It’s not the first time the posters have appeared in North America, where Jewish anti-racism group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says they appear to be designed to intentionally spark “overreactions” and weaken the credibility of groups opposed to racism.
The flyers are “the product of the latest trolling campaign created by users of 4chan, a popular internet discussion forum … infamous for its trolling attempts — as well as for the studied offensiveness of many of its members and its association with the white supremacist alt right movement,” the group wrote in a bulletin last November.
The ADL said the message appears to have originated on 4chan in October 2017.
“The idea was to create a flier that had an [ostensibly] inoffensive phrase on it that would nevertheless be treated as racist by people who viewed it, particularly liberals or members of the media.”
The message appeared at multiple college and university campuses across the U.S. and Canada last year.
In 2017, Newsweek reported that the posters had been promoted by writers for Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, as well as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.
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