White supremacist organization recruiting on campus

Jack Dobbs

In recent months, a controversial organization has placed flyers, stickers and recruiting tools around WKU.

The organization, known as Identity Evropa (pronounced “Europa”), is registered as a white nationalist hate group with the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Both Bowling Green and WKU have been the recipient of Identity Evropa’s presence. Posters featuring Identity Evropa slogans and stickers of its logo, known as “The Dragon’s Eye,” have been placed at the Cravens-Helm Library on the Hill as well as at Spencer’s Coffee in downtown Bowling Green.

Aside from plastering signs all over town, Identity Evropa has engaged local and aspiring members in various hikes and outdoor activities around Bowling Green. These activities are logged on Identity Evropa’s Twitter account.

“They know how to handle a lot of things, and they are here to normalize themselves,” WKU senior Spencer Wells said. 

Wells, who comes from a Jewish family, said he has experienced Identity Evropa’s practices on campus first-hand. He said he first heard about flyers in Bowling Green from a shared Facebook post on Oct. 3. 

From there, Wells said he spoke with a former supervisor at WKU Libraries who said she had noticed flyers in the hallway between Cravens and Helm library.

After finding the flyers in libraries, Wells said members of Bowling Green Mutual Aid Society and the Southern Kentucky Democratic Socialists of America patrolled downtown Bowling Green and WKU’s campus for flyers. Wells said he or other members found posters in Downing Student Union and College Street.

“They’re doing a lot of intelligence gathering right now,” Wells said. “They just need to have one or two successes on campus, and then they’re gone.”

Identity Evropa is the latest in a line of “alt-right” groups. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the “alt-right” is known for consisting largely of white supremacy organizations like Identity Evropa.

The emergence of Identity Evropa’s propaganda on college campuses nationwide is known as #ProjectSiege, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Identity Evropa was founded in 2016 by Iraq War veteran Nathan Damigo and prides itself as an “American Identitarian” organization, according to its website. Identitarianism is defined as a movement that supports political and social agendas of certain racial or ethnic groups. Most of the time, identitarianism relates to European culture and heritage, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We are a group of patriotic American Identitarians who have realized that we are descended from the great traditions, history and people that flowed from Europe,” Identity Evropa’s website states. “We embrace the idea that our identities are central to who we are, and take pride in our history and rich cultural heritage. At a time when every other group is free to stand behind its identity, we choose to assert ours as well.”

A quick perusing of Identity Evropa’s website will reveal photographs of organization members dressed in coats and ties and photographs showing Identity Evropa’s current leader, Patrick Casey, speaking to a crowd through a megaphone.

Identity Evropa’s website also features a prominent picture of a large banner reading “AMERICA FIRST—END IMMIGRATION” draped from a highway overpass. On Twitter, Identity Evropa’s feed consists mainly of photos showing posters with phrases such as “thank you veterans” and “Identity Evropa: European Roots American Greatness.” 

While Identity Evropa does not officially publish membership numbers, it is a national organization which has hung posters all over the United States from La Jolla, California, to Bedminster, New Jersey.

The Herald reached out to local and national branches of Identity Evropa over its website and social media but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

This recent advertising by Identity Evropa has resulted in swift action. Some members of WKU’s Student Government Association along with other WKU students have spoken out against Identity Evropa.

An SGA Senate resolution has also been created addressing this issue. The bill is authored by Wells, along with Executive Vice President Garrett Edmonds, Campus Improvements Committee chair Matt Barr and WKU student Ashlynn Evans.

“We are not trying to limit their rights to free speech, but we are officially denouncing what they say,” Edmonds said.

The resolution calls for the SGA Senate to officially denounce the practices that Identity Evropa has engaged in on WKU’s campus. The bill authors believe the leadership at WKU has a responsibility to discourage these events from taking place on campus and around Bowling Green.

“The only way to get rid of them is to get [campus] leaders to hold them accountable,” Wells said. “My main priority is keeping campus safe.” 

 

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected]