This article was updated to include a statement from Greenwich Police Chief Heavey.
This article was updated to include a statement from Selectwoman Lauren Rabin.
Last week, after Trump 2020 stickers began to appear on the backs of town owned traffic signs, Greenwich Police said anyone caught defacing town property with stickers would be charged with Criminal Mischief, with a fine depending on the degree of damage.
“The degree depends on the cost to replace,” said Captain Mark Zuccerella, who explained that stickers ruin the reflective surface on the signs.
This week “Patriot Front” stickers were spotted on Greenwich Avenue.
According to the Anti Defamation League, Patriot Front is a white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it solely to them. The group espouses racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance under the guise of preserving the “ethnic and cultural origins” of their European ancestors.
The Anti-Defamation League says on its website that the group spreads hateful propaganda through stickers, as well as banners, fliers and posters. They also use the Internet, and participate in “flash mobs” and torch marches.
A GFP reader said that last week she had removed several of the stickers herself, but other stickers were too high to reach.
She asked the Selectmen to act with urgency in removing the stickers.
Greenwich Police Captain Mark Zuccerella said the DPW highway division had been asked to remove all stickers on Town owned signs.
He said people should report stickers on town property to police.
“We never received a report of the stickers,” he said. “So, if someone removes them, that’s up to them, but we won’t know where they are or if they are there.”
Zuccerella said unlike campaign lawn signs, stickers on Town signs are not considered free speech under the First Amendment.
The Town does not regulate election signage unless signs impede sight lines.
“No one is allowed to place stickers, of any sort, on street signs,” he said.
On his Friday WGCH radio show, First Selectman Camillo said, “It’s hard to catch them because it’s usually done at night, but it’s on the radar and police are looking.”
He said DPW employees had taken some of the stickers down, but they had reappeared.
“Whoever is doing it knows they’re doing something illegal,” he added.
Camillo said he had yet to see the Patriot Front stickers himself, but had seen the Trump 2020 stickers. He put out a public statement last week saying that no matter the message, stickers on public property are illegal. He said he planned to put out an updated message Friday evening (Oct 2) in his weekly Connections e-blast.
“As far as this new sticker from Patriot Front – whatever these groups are, whatever their targets are, you have to condemn them. A hate message delivered at any one group is a message delivered to everybody. If you turn your back and say, ‘Oh, I’m not involved, they don’t like other people, I’m okay,’ you’ll be next.”Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo
Camillo said he was in the early stages of planning events to promote civility, inclusion and the welcoming nature of Greenwich, but did not elaborate on details.
Selectperson Jill Oberlander said Friday in an email that the white supremacist and racist group’s vandalism of town property was concerning.
“Greenwich is an inclusive community and our residents represent diverse origins, religions, and ethnicities,” she said. “We need to send the message – loud and clear – that hate is not welcome here.”
“To that end, I expressly and strongly denounce racist messages and all hate speech, bullying, and intimidation, whether by implication or overt threats of physical violence, and ask all elected Town officials and other Town leaders to join me,” she added. “I also ask the Greenwich Police Department to fully and thoroughly investigate and prosecute these acts of vandalism.”
Selectwoman Lauren Rabin responded to a request for comment saying, “I am in agreement and alignment with the sentiments expressed by my fellow Board of Selectmen. I am committed to standing up against any group or person promoting hate or superiority over another. I also hope we can work together as a community to show supporters of these groups that they can take new paths.”
On Friday Greenwich Police shared a statement from Chief James Heavey, who said his department unequivocally rejects hate beliefs, including statements or actions that seek to encourage bias or violence towards any persons or groups based upon race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual identity or sexual orientation.
“We aggressively investigate crimes of hate and positively advocate for victims of such incidents,” Heavey said. “We have educated our officers on recognizing hate crimes and have partnered with groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to provide us training.”
Town workers, along with Greenwich residents, have worked to remove the Patriot Front stickers. The placement of these stickers is illegal and Greenwich Police seek to identify the parties involved.
Police ask that anyone who has information on the placement of the Patriot Front stickers to contact their tip line at [email protected]