A UC San Diego student and member of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa has been disrupting classrooms and, in at least one instance, flashing his Identity Evropa badge before leaving.
According to UCSD Police logs on Jan. 11, Policy And Records Administration received a report that a member of a white supremacist group entered a classroom to harass students, but police determined that no crime was committed.
An unnamed student in the class said that everything was “calm” when the Evropa member first entered, since many students are still picking classes during the first few weeks of school. According to the student, the mood shifted when the Evropa member got up and started to leave. “As he reached the door, he turned back in a way that made it seem like he forgot something, then he flashed his badge.”
When the Professor didn’t understand the gesture, the Evropa member gave up and said someone “would be watching.”
“I felt actual shock waves move through the class as each student began to process what happened, our faces went from confusion to recognition to shock to fear to anger,” the student said. “They didn’t take away our resolve, or our sense of purpose in the class. If anything, they empowered us.”
While the intention of Identity Evropa is to cause panic, the university response has primarily been one of silence, intending to partition the event away from press and quarantine the situation. UCSD Administration and Records has not released any further information on the incident or the student to the public.
Following the incident, Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Simmons responded to the “several incidents” involving white supremacist groups on campus in an instructional memo sent to all department chairs on Jan. 16. She wrote that faculty have a responsibility and the authority to maintain order in the classroom.
“Disruption of the teaching and learning process should not be tolerated,” Simmons wrote in the memo. “Individuals should be asked to leave class if they engage in disruptive behavior that impedes your ability to teach the class productively.”
Over the last two years, white supremacists identifying with Identity Evropa have placed cryptic flyers around the campus urging students to “embrace their European heritage.” In October 2017, the group hung two unauthorized banners from the top of Price Center in the early morning that were promptly removed. One of them read “No Amnesty! End DACA!” and the other in part read “Carry On, Citizen.”
Brooke Binkowski, Managing Editor of fact-checking website Snopes and a UCSD alumna, thinks that unless administrators act soon, the problem will only get worse.
“I think it’s disgraceful that this kind of intimidation is allowed to flourish on campus under the auspices of free speech, because it is outright chilling the free speech rights of any student that is not a white supremacist,” said Binkowski.“I’m also very disappointed with the lack of administrative response to date, because if this is allowed to be entrenched in the culture of the university, it will be extremely hard to get rid of,” she said. “I was here for the noose in the library and the Compton Cookout and I saw the non-response then and the soul-searching that it prompted.”
Identity Evropa’s describes themselves as “identitarian” and overtly echoes the Nazi Party’s concept of Volksgemeinschaft, requiring members be “of European, non-Semitic heritage.”
On Jan. 17, the local chapter of Identity Evropa participated in a beach clean-up, where they did not publicize their preference for segregation of communities and ethnocentrism, but did remove plastics and broken glass. On Jan. 28, the group placed a banner above the Yerba Buena Tunnel in San Francisco that read “Danger. Sanctuary City Ahead.”
“Like many newer alt-right organizations, Identity Evropa tries to cloak its white supremacist ideology with pseudo-intellectualism meant to appeal to young, white, male college students,” says the Southern Poverty Law Center. “No swastikas here, but clean-cut boys with fashy haircuts and pressed khakis.
Identity Evropa was founded in March 2016 by Nathan Damigo, one of the organizers of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where one attendee rammed his car into a crowd, injuring 19 and killing 1. In April, Damigo punched anti-fascist protester Emily Rose Marshall in the face. This was followed by a doxxing campaign against Marshall and her family, initiated by the greater”alt-right” community. Damigo stepped down after the Charlottesville rally, after which the organization promised to change directions.
“Most people think of Democracy as being synonymous with free speech,” Identity Evropa founder Nathan Damigo said in an interview last January. “It isn’t necessarily.”
San Diego State University (SDSU) is also no stranger to interactions with Identity Evropa. In 2016, The Daily Aztec interviewed SDSU alum Reinhard Wolff, who has actively recruited white students on campus. Wolff advocates the creation of an “ethnostate,” an area occupied overwhelmingly by people of one race.
All of these efforts are a part of “Project Siege,” an effort to begin “a long term cultural war of attrition” against what they call “academia’s Cultural Marxist narrative.”
In light of recent UC initiatives that spurred the discussion about the importance of freedom of speech, incidents of hate on UC campuses have been on the rise. In April 2016, students chalked the campus with nativist messages like “build a wall,” “deport them all,” and “Mexico will pay.” In September 2017, white supremacist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos cost UC Berkeley $800,000 in order to make a 20 minute appearance bolstered by hundreds of protesters.
“The administration could head off a really bad public relations headache in the future if they act now,” said Binkowski. “The tide is going to change for white supremacy, and it’s going to be real embarrassing for the people that let it flourish.”
Gabriel Schneider is the News Editor at The Triton.