After 21-year-old William Schenk was arrested Thursday on suspicion of posting Ku Klux Klan flyers on the doors of two Burlington women of color, officials told the media that they’re not aware of any other hate group activity in Burlington.
“There are definitely other hate groups at work [statewide] in Vermont,” said Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo. “We don’t have a special unit or are making a special emphasis to look at those hate groups. But there was an instance of business cards being distributed at Quarry Hill [apartment complex] which were Klan recruitment business cards. We’re trying to tie Mr. Schenk into that. Other than that, we don’t have any other indication of hate group activity right now in our jurisdiction.”
Earlier this year, however, multiple Reddit users found flyers for a white nationalist group posted in Burlington.
The posters, photographed by redditor "nonades" in July, say “honor your heritage” in black stencil letters with a logo. A digital version of the flyer was available for printing through the website for the National Youth Front. The group is known to the Southern Poverty Law Center as an offshoot of the white nationalist American Freedom Party.
It’s the newly formed youth wing of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, and it is only the latest in a growing number of racist organizations targeting youth on college campuses.
The first mention of the flyers was posted on Reddit March 25 by user "crackersthecat." The post came four days after William Schenk – the suspect in the recent case of the KKK flyers – posted to Facebook that he was making a trip to Vermont. Schenk's Facebook account uses a pseudonym.
The same Facebook account, which uses the URL suffix "confederatelove," gave a page for the Ku Klux Klan a five-star review on Facebook.
Schenk pleaded not guilty Friday in response to two charges of disorderly conduct with enhancements for hate crime that could extend his imprisonment if he is convicted. Those charges stem from prosecutor TJ Donovan’s assertion that Schenk intentionally targeted the homes of two black women.
There was no mention on reddit earlier this year of the National Youth Front posters appearing on people’s homes. Crackersthecat, the first user to mention the flyers on reddit, said he or she found one of the posters “on a board at Main [Street] and Church Street (near Manhattan’s Pizza).”
A video posted to YouTube entitled “National Youth Front – Declaration of War” shows security camera footage of people of color attacking other people as a man’s voice narrates:
“We watch as our cities burn, the results of a nation ethnically fractured by a failed utopian social experiment of massive immigration and multiculturalism,” the voice says. The video continues to describe how “we” – a reference to white Americans – are the victims of decades of cultural, social and economic degradation.
The narrator goes on to say: “This is a declaration of war. America is ours and we are tomorrow.”
The group changed its name and leadership in recent months, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and its original website is no longer online.