White Supremacist Propaganda Surges on Campus

Patriot Front Flint

Data show incidents more than tripled in 2017

As of January 29, 2018


White supremacists, particularly alt right groups, have been actively targeting U.S. college campuses since January 2016. The practice failed to get any real traction until the fall semester of 2016.  Since then, propaganda efforts have increased dramatically. 

Identity Evropa Flier

The propaganda delivers a range of messages: it may promote a white supremacist group, or trumpet the urgent need to “save” the white race.” Frequently, the propaganda attacks minority groups, including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants, and the LGBT community.

Some groups, including Identity Evropa (IE), use propaganda that avoids recognizable white supremacist imagery and language.  For example, IE has used black and white images of classical sculptures, including Michelangelo’s David or Nicolas Coustou’s Julius Caesar. Other groups, including Atomwaffen Division, use blatantly violent and offensive imagery like blood-splattered swastikas.

These campaigns are designed to spread the white supremacist message, recruit followers, and garner attention. Many of the groups (particularly IE, Patriot Front, and Vanguard America) also photograph or livestream their campus activism for use in online propaganda.

Meanwhile, campus administrators must address the need to counter the hate groups’ messages while simultaneously protecting free speech.


Since September 1, 2016, the ADL has recorded 346 incidents of white supremacist propaganda – fliers, stickers, banners, and posters – appearing on college and university campuses. These campaigns targeted 216 college campuses, from Ivy League schools to local community colleges, in 44 states and the District of Columbia

  • 41 of the 346 incidents occurred during the fall semester of 2016 (Sept 1-Dec 31, 2016)
  • 147 of the 346 incidents were recorded during the fall semester of 2017 (Sept 1 – Dec 31, 2017)
  • 290 of the 346 incidents happened in 2017
  • 15 incidents have taken place in 2018


Patriot Front gab


States hardest hit: (full list of states at end of report)

  • Texas - 61
  • California - 43
  • Pennsylvania - 18
  • Florida - 17
  • Virginia - 16
  • Ohio - 14

Most active groups:

*In some cases, white supremacist groups have included “It’s Okay to be White” in their fliers, capitalizing on a trolling meme that was popularized on 4chan. Fliers including that phrase, but not attributed specifically to a white supremacist group, are not included in our count.

Examples of other types of white supremacists’ 2017-18 campus activity:

  • University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, January 2018: People claiming to be members of Identity Evropa attempted to disrupt ethnic studies classes.
  • Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, December 2017: Five individuals associated with Vanguard America, a white supremacist group, tweeted photographs of themselves giving Hitler salutes while posting the group’s racist materials.
Vanguard America salute
  • University of Texas, Austin, Texas, November 2017: Approximately 25 Patriot Front members and associates, wearing masks and carrying burning torches demonstrated in front of the George Washington statue. After campus police ordered them to leave, the group reportedly departed without further incident.
Patriot Front Texas University
  • San Diego State University, San Diego, California, November 2017: Identity Evropa held a private speaking event, titled “A Brighter Future.”
Identity Evropa Event
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, October 2017: Several dozen white supremacists, including members of Patriot Front, attended a public alt right speaking event that included Richard Spencer, Mike “Enoch,” Eli “Mosley” Kline, and Cameron Padgett. Following the event, 3 of Richard Spencer’s supporters were arrested and charged with attempted murder after one shot at protesters.
  • University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, August 2017: The evening prior to the deadly Unite the Right rally, approximately 200 individuals chanted white supremacist slogans such as “blood and soil,” “white lives matter” and “Jews will not replace us,” as they participated in a torch march through the UVA campus. Fights broke out when marchers surrounded a small group of protesters.
  • Miami-Dade College-Kendall Campus, Miami, Florida, August 2017: Six members of Identity Evropa disrupted a pro-immigration forum by going onstage and unfurling an Identity Evropa banner that read, “Secure our Border Secure our Future.”
Identity Evropa banner
  • University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, May 2017: Sean Christopher Urbanski of Severna Park was indicted for a hate crime related to the unprovoked stabbing death of black U.S. Army lieutenant, Richard Collins III, at a campus bus stop. Urbanski has been linked to a Facebook group called “Alt Reich” that embraces the racist and hate filled meme culture of the alt right.
  • Oregon University, Eugene, Oregon, July 2017: White supremacist student body leader Andrew Joseph Oswalt was arrested on the University of Oregon campus and charged with carrying an illegally concealed knife. He was with a group of men, including white supremacist James Larry Marr (aka Jimmy Marr), who were distributing white supremacist fliers around the campus.
  • Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, April 2017: Richard Spencer spoke at an event attended by several dozen of his fellow white supremacists, including Ryan M. King, an Alabama-based member of the League of the South, who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for his role in a fist fight outside the event. King has since been found guilty.

Full State-by-State Breakdown

  • Alabama - 2
  • Arizona - 7
  • Arkansas - 1
  • California - 43
  • Colorado - 3
  • Connecticut - 1
  • Delaware - 1
  • Florida - 17
  • Georgia - 13
  • Idaho - 1
  • Illinois - 8
  • Indiana - 6
  • Iowa - 5
  • Kansas - 2
  • Kentucky - 2
  • Maryland - 7
  • Massachusetts - 10
  • Michigan - 7
  • Minnesota - 5
  • Mississippi - 1
  • Missouri - 3
  • Montana - 3
  • Nebraska - 2
  • Nevada - 2
  • New Jersey - 10
  • New Mexico - 1
  • New York - 12
  • North Carolina - 8
  • North Dakota - 2
  • Ohio - 14
  • Oklahoma - 6
  • Oregon - 7
  • Pennsylvania - 18
  • Rhode Island - 1
  • South Carolina - 4
  • South Dakota - 4
  • Tennessee - 7
  • Texas - 61
  • Utah - 5
  • Vermont - 1
  • Virginia - 16
  • Washington - 11
  • District of Columbia - 2
  • Wisconsin - 3
  • Wyoming - 1