Residents of the Wetherby Park neighborhood in southeastern Iowa City woke up to white supremacist fliers on their front lawns on Wednesday morning. The racist message on the fliers was clearly visible through the clear plastic bags containing the fliers.
“Wednesday is the day we used to get a free Press-Citizen delivered, and I was kind of excited because I haven’t gotten in one in about three years,” Wetherby Park resident Max Ostby told Little Village. “I picked it up and realized: No, this is not the Press-Citizen.”
“I looked around. I could tell every single house in my neighborhood had been hit with these,” Ostby added.
The single-page fliers were from the neo-Nazi-affiliated National Alliance (NA), which was founded in Mill Point, West Virginia in 1970, and is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as “Explicitly genocidal in its ideology, NA materials call for the eradication of the Jews and other races and the creation of an all-white homeland.” According to the SPLC, the NA has lost most of its members since its founder died in 2002. Further disputes over the group’s finances and leadership fights have rendered the NA “almost irrelevant” among far-right organizations.
Jillian Moore, another Wetherby Park resident, saw the flier in front of her house as she was returning from an early morning walk.
“I grabbed it to throw it in the recycling, and then I noticed what the paper said,” Moore said. “I thought I was reading it wrong, because it looked like it said, ‘Love your race.’ I opened it, and I was reading it right.”
The fliers were wrapped around copies of the Davenport-based River Cities Reader, a free monthly newspaper.
“We do not distribute in Iowa City, let alone do home delivery, and we are not in any way associated with whatever organization or individual is responsible for this,” Reader Publisher Todd McGreevy told Little Village.
McGreevy said whoever is responsible could have grabbed free copies of the Reader from any number of distribution sites around the Quad Cities, in order, perhaps, to make the NA’s message more respectable by associating it with a publication that has nothing to do with hate groups. McGreevy also explained that the paper never uses the plastic bags that were used to distribute it in Wetherby Park. He said the Reader has never had any sort of contact with the NA or other white supremacist groups before.
The NA was active in Davenport last summer, however. In August, fliers bearing a different racist message from the group were distributed in Davenport neighborhoods and parking lots. Whoever distributed those fliers did not take credit for their actions, and has not otherwise been identified.
No one has stepped forward to take credit this time either. But Moore thinks she knows why Wetherby Park was targeted.
“Our neighborhood itself is much more racially diverse than other parts of Iowa City,” Moore said. “So, these streets could have easily been chosen for that antagonistic reason.”
Both Moore and Ostby reported the fliers to the SPLC, which tracks hate incidents around the country. Moore also called the Iowa City Police Department to report the fliers.
“I thought it was worth having it on the record,” Moore explained. Moore has lived in her neighborhood for 10 years, and this is the first incident involving racist literature she can remember.
Ostby, however, remembered a previous incident.
“It was a little, tri-folded page,” he said. “It must have been at least five years ago. But whoever did that didn’t make an effort like this.”