CHEYENNE – A white nationalist group made its presence known in the Capital City over the weekend, rolling out banners reading “Defend the Rockies, End Immigration.”
Identity Evropa, an organization designated a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center, posted three photos on Twitter of members holding the banners Sunday outside the Wyoming Supreme Court and Cheyenne Depot Plaza.
The group also posted “Merry Christmas” fliers around town in late December, according to a previous Identity Evropa tweet.
Sunday’s photos, which a spokesman confirmed were taken by members “in the area,” show the men holding banners, “calling for an end to open borders and the current invasion taking place on American soil.”
The demonstration was part of Identity Evropa’s efforts to popularize its “identitarian” goals aimed at preserving white American culture and European identity, according to the organization’s website.
The group is probably most famously known for being involved in planning the “Unite the Right” protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which a counter-protester died when she was rammed by a car.
But Identity Evropa has since tried to distance itself from those protests.
In an email, a spokesman for the group said, “Advocacy of supremacy, violence or illegal activity is not permitted in our organization.”
But Antonio Serrano, the chairman of the local immigration activism group Juntos, said people shouldn’t be fooled by the group’s propaganda.
“They try to disguise their racism as patriotism,” he said. “They put out things that say ‘Merry Christmas’ and try to seem like an all-American group, and they’re really not.”
He said it was “upsetting” to see “Nazis” openly demonstrating in the community, and called people to action.
“It’s sickening to see that these people are feeling empowered enough that they can be putting banners in our streets,” he said. “Wyoming is not immune to this stuff, and it’s really something that our community needs to stand up against.”
Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr said Monday that while she hadn’t seen the signs, the demonstrations were “unacceptable.”
“We will take whatever action, without obstructing freedom of speech, necessary,” she said.
Cheyenne Police Department spokesman Kevin Malatesta said the department hadn’t received any formal complaints about the demonstrators; however, a CPD gang task force would be notified of and monitor “things of that nature.”
This isn’t the first time the group has made its presence known in Wyoming. Last year, University of Wyoming officials took down Identity Evropa fliers featuring slogans such as “Our Generation, Our Future, One Last Chance.”
Those fliers are part of an effort from white supremacist groups to recruit on college campuses using propaganda like fliers and posters, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League.
During the 2017-18 school year, the ADL found 292 such cases – a 77 percent increase from the previous year.