LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Banners and stickers for a white nationalist group appeared on overpasses in Lynchburg over the weekend. Most of them have since been taken down.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this group wants to establish a white ethnostate that excludes immigrants and people of color. WFXR News is choosing not to name the white supremacist group or describe their ideology is greater detail so as not to give them a larger platform to spew their messages of hate.
WFXR News spoke with a resident who saw the banners and took matters into their own hands.
“It was propaganda for alt-right white nationalist movement, and I’m not okay with that,” said the Lynchburg citizen, who chose to remain anonymous out of safety concerns.
They say they noticed the banners hanging from overpasses along Route 29 on Sunday, May 23.
“We just walked over,” the person told WFXR, showing the scissors they used and scraps of the red string holding up the banner. “My friend advised to bring scissors for cutting down the posters so we did that.”
WFXR News also found a sticker on a traffic signal box on the side of Graves Mill Road on Monday, May 24, along with another overpass banner, also on Graves Mill Road.
Interim City Manager Reid Wodicka says he tried to remove the sticker on the traffic signal box Monday afternoon but wasn’t able to, saying he’ll send Public Works to remove it on Tuesday, May 25.
“We’ve had racial issues for years and years,” said Lynchburg City Council member Sterling Wilder, “and I think over the past couple of years, there’s been more of, even though it’s been more hidden, it kind of now is more exposed.”
“As a stance, we shouldn’t ignore them,” said Stephanie Andrews, the President Pro Tem of the YWCA, an organization with a commitment to eliminating racism.
According to Andrews, it’ll take work from the whole community to combat hate groups.
“You can go out and educate yourself and learn how to do what you feel is right in your heart to make those changes, and change always starts with action,” Andrews said.
“We need to continue to preach love,” said Wilder. “We need to continue to preach togetherness.”
Police spokesperson Carrie Dungan says the banners are the first of their kind that they’ve seen in Lynchburg from this group.
Two of the group’s stickers were posted within a block of the Lynchburg Police Department recently. One was on a street sign across from the school system admin building, which WFXR News photographed in April.
In October, a church had their rainbow banner stolen, and the reverend told WFXR News that a sticker from this group had been put on their little library.