Officials at the University of Vermont say posters linked to white supremacists have begun turning up again on campus.
It’s the second time in less than a year that racially inflammatory messages have appeared at local college campuses. According a UVM press release, the posters — which read “It’s OK to Be White” — were also spotted over the weekend at Champlain College.
“To the extent that the signs are intended to promote a white nationalist ideology, as news reports have suggested, we condemn the activity in the strongest possible terms, as it is completely antithetical to our core University values,” the statement said.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the ‘It’s OK To Be White” meme originated on 4chan, an Internet message board, a year ago. The fliers were distributed in at least six states last Halloween, as well as in Alberta, Canada.
“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 ADL said.
The ADL said it has tracked the phrase “It’s okay to be white” to white supremacist fliers as far back as 2005. In 2012, the group reports, a member of the Ku Klux Klan group United Klans of America used the hashtag #IOTBW on Twitter.
In February, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with local law enforcement, investigated extremist literature at the Burlington campuses, as well at St. Michael’s College in Colchester. Signs spotted on the campuses that said “White Privelaged (sic) And Proud of It” and “Innocent Lives Matter Not Guilty Ones” prompted student demonstrations in support of people of color.
The investigation concluded that the people or organizations that posted the signs were from out of state and that there was no evidence linking the posters to any local students or student groups on the three campuses.
“It does appear, however, that these individuals intended to cause strife, disruption and mistrust on local college campuses by expressing hostile and troubling messages in their public spaces,” said the Burlington Police Department. “There is also evidence that these individuals have participated in extremist group activities in other communities.
In response to the latest reports, UVM said campus authorities “will remain vigilant, take all appropriate steps and continue to work closely with police on these matters. Our priority remains to advance the safety, health and well-being of our students and other members of our University community.”