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Watauga NAACP: Make No Mistake, Identity Evropa Banner Hung on Campus is Act of Hate

A photo of NAACP supporters at Appalachian State University.

On Monday evening as Appalachian State students prepared for the first day of classes, two white males belonging to the white supremacy group Identity Evropa, placed a banner on the pedestrian bridge over Rivers Street.

The banner is used as a recruitment tool on college campuses across the country. Although it was removed within ten minutes of being placed, many students saw it and posted it to social media along with angry and fearful comments. While campus police and Boone Police investigated, they told Student Body President, Anderson Clayton, that the banner did not pose a direct threat.

Make no mistake, this was an act of hate. The banner was intended to intimidate and incite fear among the African-American, Jewish, LGBTQ, minority and immigrant student populations at the beginning of the school year.

Identity Evropa is a white nationalist group that espouses white supremacist views. They endorse racial segregation and are engaged in a “culture war” in an effort to create a “90 percent white” America. Identity Evropa, the largest youth group on the so-called “alt-right,” excludes Jews from membership and only those “of European, non-Semitic heritage” may join the group. They frame themselves as a “pro-white” fraternity and refuse to acknowledge the Holocaust.

The Student Government Association hosted a meeting Tuesday evening, inviting campus organization leaders and anyone with concerns to attend. Over 200 students packed the Linville Falls room in the Plemmons Student Union. Clayton moderated the hour-long meeting.

Many attendees were shocked at the move by Identity Evropa while others saw it coming long ago. One young woman recalled seeing white supremacy posters and fliers in her dorm during the 2016-2017 school year. Others recalled the same.

Criticism of Chancellor Everts became a central theme of the meeting. One transfer student said that prior to coming to Appalachian, she called to inquire about race relations and how issues surrounding hate speech and discrimination are handled. After five redirected calls and leaving messages, she has yet to receive a call back from anyone at the university.

Concerning social justice issues, students feel that Chancellor Everts is not listening to them but rather giving finely crafted public relations responses that are not lining up with the reality students are facing day to day.

By Wednesday morning Chancellor Everts issued a statement that “violence, discrimination, injustice and racism” would not be tolerated on campus. Watauga NAACP President, Todd Carter had hoped for much stronger language.

“Call it what it is; hate speech. Those speaking it are white supremacists belonging to Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist groups. Semantics are crucial here. Boldly state that Appalachian State denounces white supremacy and intimidation through hate speech,” said Carter. “One statement belongs in a policy manual. The other statement tells Nazi hate groups that they are not welcome here. Which statement will make students feel like the University has their back?”

Conversations between the Student Government Association, Appalachian State University Administration and the local NAACP branch will continue. And while opinions regarding solutions will vary, one thing is certain, the Watauga NAACP remains steadfast in our commitment to fighting against the forces of evil that seek to do harm. We will not back down from this face of hate.

Boone does not want to be the next Charlottesville.

Anyone in need of support is encouraged to contact Watauga NAACP at info@watauganaacp.org. Additional information may be found at WataugaNAACP.org or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @WataugaNAACP