Neo-Nazi group distributes propaganda in eastern Iowa again

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The logo for the white supremacist (and nearly defunct) National Alliance.

White supremacist propaganda from the neo-Nazi National Alliance has been showing up on driveways in Davenport. A flyer from the group has been tucked into a magazine that is rolled up, placed in a clear plastic bag and then tossed onto driveways and lawns. Unfortunately, the hate group is using old copies of Little Village this time.

“There was one tossed on my driveway yesterday morning, I just tossed into the recycling without taking the magazine out of the plastic bag,” a Davenport resident told Little Village on Friday. “And there was another right by my mailbox this morning. I picked it up and looked at it.”

“The flyers was placed inside, right after the cover. I was confused because it was obviously Nazi propaganda, but that didn’t fit with the rest of the magazine.”

It should go without saying that Little Village has no connection with the National Alliance, beyond reporting on the hate group. This isn’t the first time the National Alliance used copies of Little Village or other magazines that are distributed for free to add heft to their fliers and stickers so that they can be tossed onto lawns and driveways. It’s been happening since January 2018.

The last time National Alliance propaganda was reported in the Quad Cities area was in September. That time, large National Alliance stickers with racist messages disguised as public health advice were “attached to readily available free Quad-City publications” and thrown into people’s yards in Moline, the Quad City Times reported.

National Alliance fliers distributed on Iowa City’s westside, June 1, 2020.

Whoever is distributing the National Alliance material in eastern Iowa always chooses publications that can be picked up for free from public locations. It’s an indication of the threadbare status of the National Alliance.

The white supremacist group was founded in West Virginia in 1970. Explicitly racist and anti-Semitic, it has repeatedly called for the elimination of both Jews and racial minorities in America, and the establishment of an all-white homeland.

In 2000, the Anti-Defamation League called the National Alliance “the most dangerous organized hate group” in the country. Two years later, the National Alliance’s leader died and the group rapidly fell apart. New leaders fought among themselves, and the membership dwindled. Currently, the group does little beyond selling white supremacist books and paraphernalia to its few remaining supporters. In September, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution described the National Alliance as “a mostly defunct white supremacist group with deeply anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant beliefs.”

But even though the National Alliance has largely collapsed, the spread of white supremacist propaganda has been on the rise in recent years.

The flyer that showed up in Davenport on Friday morning was the same one that was distributed in Iowa City’s Wetherby Park neighborhood in January 2018. On that occasion, the flyers were wrapped around copies of the Davenport-based River City Reader, a free monthly newspaper.

White supremacist flyer that was delivered to homes in the Wetherby Park on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2017. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Two weeks after the Wetherby Park incident, a man was arrested in Davenport as he was putting those same flyers on cars at a high school sports facility. James Lee Mathias, a resident of Davenport in his 50s, wasn’t arrested for distributing the flyers — the National Alliance’s message is repulsive, but isn’t illegal — but because he was carrying a gun on school property.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mathias has been a member of the National Alliance since 2000. Following his arrest, reported that “Mathias’ name also appears on frequent posts on a white supremacist website, with many of his posts referencing the local distribution of flyers.”

It’s not known if Mathias actually played any role in the National Alliance materials being distributed at eastern Iowa homes. Each time the hate group’s flyers and stickers have been tossed into people’s yards, it was done during early morning hours when there was no one present to witness it.

“They must have thrown it from the street,” the Davenport homeowner said on Friday. “We have security cameras which would have been activated if they came onto our property.”

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