A racist banner and two swastikas have been found painted on an abandoned hospital in Ensley in a predominantly African American neighborhood.
The incident has unnerved residents and prompted community leaders to speak out and reach out to CBS42.
At the back of the Holy Family Community Hospital, which has sat abandoned for about 40 years, the banner reads “One Nation Against Invasion” and is signed the Patriot Front, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as a white nationalist hate group.
“The fact that they would come into a Black community and put their calling card on a building is very disgusting,” said resident and business owner Alexander Brewer.
Brewer joins a number of neighbors in Tuxedo Court pushing back against what they describe as a message of hate and racism. They believe someone broke into the property a few weeks ago and painted the images.
They are calling for the perpetrators to be caught, and they emphasized that hate has no place there.
“Is it a form of intimidation? Or is it a form of a statement that they’re making that says that ‘you’re reachable by us … we can get you wherever you are,’” Brewer said.
“It was appalling,” said community activist John Meehan.
Meehan has lived in the area his whole life, and he first noticed the sign on Saturday while driving down I-59. Then, he said he alerted others and called the police.
“This is 2023; this is not the 1960s. For a group like this to come into our community that wants to start hate, we’re not gonna tolerate it,” Meehan said.
According to the NGO StopAntisemitism, the Patriot Front targets communities of color and plants signs like this around the country to make the group seem larger and more influential than it actually is. Former “Antisemite of the Week” Chris Hood was a former member of the Patriot Front before he was kicked out for using the group’s funds to buy drugs.
The hospital is on private property owned by Randal Scott with the Scott Contracting Company. Frost said he spoke with him regarding the sign, and Scott replied that he would take care of it this week. CBS42 reached out to Scott but didn’t hear back.
CBS42 also contacted the office of Mayor Randall Woodfin regarding the incident, and they provided the below statement:
“The city has been very responsive in removing such imagery from public rights of way. When placed on private property, the owner is responsible for addressing the matter. The city has been active in assisting in notification to property owners.”