Update: 12:28 p.m. 11/7 – Gov. Mark Gordon tweeted a statement today in response to the posters downtown. He said, "These are offensive posters which misquote our Constitution. Wyoming is not a place where bigotry and hatred is tolerated." In a follow-up tweet, he said, "The United States Constitution protects our fundamental right to freedom of speech, and I will always stand up for that. Messages like this that appear anonymously are not only reprehensible, but largely ineffective."
CHEYENNE – A number of posters advocating for a white nationalist group called Patriot Front were found on light poles in downtown Cheyenne on Tuesday morning.
Patriot Front formed from Vanguard America after 2017’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and functions under the guise of “American Nationalism.”
Daniel Sharon of Cheyenne found the posters on light posts and tore them down, but he said it isn’t the first time this has happened. In June, he found posters for the American Identity Movement, another white supremacist group with ties to the rally in Charlottesville.
“It’s something that should be taken seriously,” Sharon said.
Cheyenne Police Department Public Information Officer Kevin Malatesta said the posters shouldn’t have been put up in the first place, even if the issue is sensitive because of free speech rights.
“If they’re on public property, they’re not allowed to begin with,” Malatesta said.
To be posted publicly, posters need to go through an approval process with the city. Mayor Marian Orr said incidents like this are “always unsettling,” but encouraged anyone who witnesses posters of this sort going up to call law enforcement.
“It is illegal,” Orr said. “If we can catch them in the act, that’s even better.”
The posters said, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of victory. Patriot Front.”
The Patriot Front manifesto discusses the American identity in depth, saying, “Nationhood cannot be bestowed upon those who are not of the founding stock of our people, and those who do not share the common spirit that permeates our greater civilization, and the European diaspora.” It goes further to say that Americans are descendants of Europeans, and that even those born here may still be foreign.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the group spreads its message using internet campaigns, posters, flyers and stickers.
“It’s unfortunate that we have that kind of speech in the community,” Malatesta said.
Stephen Latham is the president of the NAACP in Cheyenne, which has gotten involved in other racist incidents in the past. He said although this poster wouldn’t warrant much of a response from the group, they stand against this type of intolerance.
“We just don’t agree with anything like that,” Latham said.
When Sharon initially found the posters in June, he hoped for more response from elected officials.
“I was just angry seeing that nobody was taking it seriously,” Sharon said. “I mean, these groups have been directly involved in deaths.”
Wyoming is one of four states in the U.S. that doesn’t have a hate-crimes law, so racial motivations for crimes cannot be factored into prosecution.