Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Councilman John Courage on Monday denounced the white supremacist group responsible for distributing up to 1,000 flyers vilifying the Black Lives Matter movement, abortion, and the Jewish faith in two Northside neighborhoods over the weekend.
The flyers, bearing swastikas and Nazi flags, were tossed onto residents’ driveways in Northside neighborhoods such as Hollywood Park and Stone Oak on Sunday. They called for “Aryan men and women” to “defend” their race but didn’t directly mention violence. Hollywood Park Police Chief Shad Prichard said there were no criminal charges pending but that the FBI had been alerted.
“Racism and hatred are not welcome here,” Nirenberg said in a prepared statement. “We will work together to root it out whenever they appear, and that includes the actions of white supremacists.”
Courage (D9) also criticized the flyers, expressing concern and disappointment at the “hate-filled material.”
“We pride ourselves as being a city of diversity as well as compassion and tolerance,” Courage said in a separate statement Monday. “The divisive and hateful message from the groups that distributed this material should be repudiated and shunned by our community.”
While the message may not directly threaten violence, the consequences of such messages are threats of harm, Courage added.
“I was horrified by [the flyers],” Prichard said. “These things create divisiveness. These messages aren’t helpful, and they made our residents upset and scared.”
The 14First the Foundation is a self-proclaimed racist organization with about 500 members nationwide, said the group’s vice president, Ronald Murray. Murray said he resides in Texas, but not in San Antonio.
“Our plan and mission is to provide white communities with the knowledge that there are people out there who will protect them,” Murray said. “These words can be misconstrued – but none of this is about violence.”
14First the Foundation has been in “recruitment mode” for the past six months and the timing of the flyers appearing in San Antonio have nothing to do with the results of the presidential election, Murray said.
Murray told the San Antonio Report he doesn’t believe the Holocaust occurred, proclaimed he is a racist but feels the word doesn’t have to be negative, and said the Nazi flag should be considered no more offensive than the LGBTQ rainbow flag. Murray added he does not support the Ku Klux Klan, terrorism, or violence, but believes in expressing white pride and freedom of speech.
While having cultural pride is never in itself a bad thing, issues arise when someone’s pride is reflected through hate towards others, said Pharaoh Clark, a co-founder of local activist group Reliable Revolutionaries and a City Council District 2 candidate.
“Celebrating ‘white pride’ doesn’t offend me,” Clark said. “When that pride becomes hatred that threatens my existence and when someone puts out something that says we [Black Americans] are living up to ghetto stereotypes – that’s not pride.”
Condemning the anti-Semitism in the flyers, Temple Beth-El Senior Rabbi Mara Nathan said it was deeply disturbing when people spread messages of hate, violence, and disinformation.
“Yesterday’s distribution of white supremacist literature in the Stone Oak and Hollywood Park neighborhood is of great concern,” she said. “We are grateful to live in a city where our mayor and other leaders as well as the vast majority of our citizens speak out against these acts of hatred and strive to create a city filled with compassion and concern for all.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio also condemned the anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric used in the flyers, said Winslow Swart, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Antonio.
Unfortunately this isn’t the first time printed material featuring such rhetoric has appeared in San Antonio, said Josey Garcia, a member and leader within Reliable Revolutionaries. Just a few months ago similar hateful posters appeared in Alamo Heights, she said. Distributing hate-filled propaganda should be considered a hate crime, Garcia said.
While the First Amendment is everyone’s right, there’s no room in San Antonio for hate, Nathan said.
“No one can solve their own problems by putting other people down,” she said.
Iris Dimmick contributed reporting to this article.