This story has been updated to include police spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin’s statement as well as an incomplete independent count by Knight News. Check back periodically for further updates.
Students woke up alarmed Monday morning after seeing multiple fliers put up by a white nationalist group called American Vanguard, which took credit for them on social media.
The fliers featured white men and women on a black backdrop with slogans like “WE HAVE A RIGHT TO EXIST” and “FREE YOURSELF FROM CULTURAL MARXISM.” Each had the information for the group’s social media pages.
At least 27 copies were found on nine buildings around campus, including 10 in the John T. Washington Breezeway, four on the Student Union, and two on the ROTC building–according to an independent count by Knight News. The number has not been officially confirmed.
At 9:25 p.m. on Sunday, American Vanguard boasted on Twitter about their fliers. The posted pictures of what appear to be their members putting up the fliers. The faces of those supposed members were blacked out, and their authenticity has yet to be independently confirmed. There is no indication that the perpetrators are UCF students.
— American Vanguard (@americavanguard) November 28, 2016
While students have reported seeing UCF police officers taking down the fliers around campus, neither UCFPD nor the university have released a public statement on the matter as of this publication. But police spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin said in an e-mail to Knight News that a “review” is currently underway.
“Yesterday UCFPD removed about 30 of these posters from various campus buildings, including classroom buildings, parking garages, and the Student Union. It is difficult to say how many were posted total, since others were likely taken down before UCFPD could recover them,” she said.
Community leaders have already begun speaking out. Central Florida Hillel issued a statement on Facebook calling on students to report “racism, xenophobia, and discrimination.”
“Central Florida Hillel (CFH) was disheartened to see these posters on campus today. While we respect everyone’s constitutional right to free speech, particularly speech that we disagree with, we are concerned that the messages in these posters could lead to divisiveness and hatred on campus,” it said.
It continued: “Freedom of speech does not include incitement to violence and this concept has been implicitly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“CFH is opposed to racism, xenophobia and discrimination and will continue our opposition to these concepts no matter who is promoting them on our campuses.
“We will remain aware and vigilant in the face of these recruitment techniques and as always we ask of everyone, “if you see something, say something.”
The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida this afternoon addressed the fliers and also called on the public speak against racism.
“The Nazis called for rule by an Aryan elite in Germany, excluding all others. This poster found hanging on a wall at the University of Central Florida is eerily reminiscent of the rhetoric and imagery that they used. Now more than ever we must STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT against all appeals to racism,” the statement said.
American Vanguard responded to UCF Hillel on Twitter, saying: “We never said anything about hate, but if you deny us our right to exist, you are an enemy that must be defeated.” The group also shared a screenshot of the Holocaust Memorial’s statement.
Even though the group claims not to have said anything about hate on their fliers, its online manifesto explicitly espouses white supremacist ideas, including calling for “total war” against a “System (sic)…that blatantly works against White Americans, the very race that built this country in the first place.”