On Sunday and Monday, at least a dozen residents in this Columbia County town discovered white supremacist literature in their yards that appeared to have been deposited by a group calling itself White Lives Matter New York.
The materials — flyers calling for “activists” in a struggle against “white racism” and one promoting a documentary called “Europa: The Last Battle” — were thrown from cars in sandwich bags weighted down with dry beans, according to residents.
On the same days, residents in Rosendale and New Paltz also reported on social media that their towns had been flyered by White Lives Matter New York. “White New Yorkers take notice!” reads one flyer found in a mailbox in Rosendale. “The WLM NY Colonial Guard is here to stand for you! Are you ready to join them in Activism and earn YOUR patch?”
The flyers are the first sign of organized activity in several months by White Lives Matter, which describes itself as “dedicated to the promotion of the white race and taking positive action as a united voice against issues facing our race,” and which the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as an extremist neo-Nazi movement. It is decentralized with local cells across the United States, and arose in response to Black Lives Matter.
In December 2021 and January of this year, WLM stickers and flyers were reported in several locations around Columbia and Greene counties, according to a timeline of the group’s activities maintained by Hate-Watch Report, which documents instances of racist propaganda in the region. The group also held a rally in Woodstock in February, where about a dozen white supremacists turned up on the village green. And on May 14 — the same day as the mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that put a renewed focus on “replacement theory” — White Lives Matter hung a banner above I-90 in Chatham.
“It’s escalating to the point where they’re promoting antisemitic, white-replacement theories,” said Michael Richardson, the founder of Hate-Watch Report.
“Europa: The Last Battle,” the documentary promoted in several of the recent flyers, is a 10-part film that claims Jews deliberately provoked both world wars as part of a plot to found Israel, and that the Nazis were just defending themselves, according to Vice.
Chatham Mayor John Howe said the police department originally received two or three reports earlier this week about the flyers, but eventually found “close to 20” of the sandwich bags in the village.
“The police are aware of it and they’ll take any information the public likes to share,” Howe said. “We’d like to identify who these people are. It’s not considered criminal at this time, but it’s troubling, to say the least. We don’t want this to turn into something more than what it is.”
Residents with more information are encouraged to contact the village of Chatham police department at 518-392-3451 or the village clerk at 518-392-5821 ext. 2.
New Paltz Police Chief Robert Lucchesi said his department had not received any information about the flyers and thus was not actively investigating the matter, though he noted that the incident likely overlapped with a Verizon service outage in the Mid-Hudson Valley on Sunday, which affected the department’s landlines. New Paltz residents with information are encouraged to call the police department’s tip line at 845-255-1357.