This Whatcom city is the next target of white supremacist ideology

What do you do if you’ve been the victim of a hate crime?

According to the Human Rights Campaign, here's what to do if you've been the victim of a hate crime.
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According to the Human Rights Campaign, here's what to do if you've been the victim of a hate crime.

A white supremacist group’s poster was reported this week in Bellingham, about three weeks after similar leaflets appeared in Ferndale.

Phil Wolff said he was walking in the Fairhaven shopping district on Sunday when he saw a poster for the white nationalist group Patriot Front outside a building south of the Haggen supermarket.

He said he immediately tore it down.

“We have a history in Bellingham of huge racist problems. When I see this stuff still persists after all this time, it still bugs me,” Wolff said in an interview with The Bellingham Herald.

Wolff reported the poster to Bellingham Police, who took the matter seriously, he said.

Similar posters were placed on Ferndale utility poles in late July, and the Ferndale Police said they were investigating.

Both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League — organizations that track hate groups, bigotry and anti-Semitism — have the Patriot Front on their watch lists.


Covering hate

Bellingham Herald journalists would like to hear from you if you have been the victim of or witnessed a hate crime or experienced hate speech. We’d also like to know if you have information about hate groups operating in Whatcom County.

You can email us directly at newsroom@bellinghamherald.com or use the online tip form if you wish to protect your identity. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to communicate with reporters and editors as safely and securely as possible.

While in some cases we may ask to use your name in a news report, we would not do so without your permission.

Patriot Front is a white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it solely to them,” the Anti-Defamation League said at its website.

Patriot Front has been active in Washington state, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

It formed as “rebranded” offshoot of Vanguard America after the deadly 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Anti-Defamation League said.

Miri Cypers, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Northwest region in Seattle, said racist organizations like Patriot Front often use coded or subdued language when they start to organize in a new area.

Wolff said that although the language in the Patriot Front poster wasn’t overtly racist, the group’s motives were clear.

“We fought a whole world war to end this stuff. It’s disturbing,” he said.

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Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.