Bellevue residents were once again hit with paper flyers directing neighbors to visit a website with white supremacist ties. Similar flyers have been reported in the cities of Kirkland, Redmond, Olympia, Tacoma, Edmonds, Everett and Seattle.
During the weekend of Jan. 6 front yards and driveways in the Phantom Lake neighborhood were littered with sandwich-sized plastic bags with small handbills inside. They read “Better dead than red” and display an altered communist-party symbol. The scrap displays the website “patriotfront.us.”
Small rocks were placed inside, potentially to help guide the literature to lawns when the bags were tossed.
Because the flyers were widespread, the Bellevue Police Department doesn’t believe the neighborhood was specifically targeted, department public information officer Seth Tyler said.
“Obviously this type of speech is not representative of the larger Bellevue community,” Officer Tyler said.
Local resident Jennifer Duenwald didn’t receive the flyer. Instead her sign that stood outside and read “Hate has no home here” was destroyed. Having happened the same weekend as the windstorm, Duenwald thought it had just blown down. But when she went out and looked at her beloved sign that displayed the same message in multiple languages, she realized it had been stomped down by someone.
She described Bellevue as a multicultural community, with her neighbors on her street hailing from India, Cambodia and Hong Kong. She spoke out against the flyers.
“I consider this unacceptable and not representative of Bellevue and something that will not be tolerated,” Duenwald said.
A spokesperson for Indivisible Eastside, a local chapter of the Indivisible Movement, said the organization was aware of the flyers, and like a majority of the responses they’ve seen, they too were disturbed by the pamphlets.
Last June a similar occurrence happened in the Clyde Hill neighborhood. These differed in that they directed residents to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on undocumented immigrants. “Keep America American” they read. And instead of rocks, the flyers were accompanied with candy.
Both flyers — those put out last summer and those distributed this year — led to the same website, the work of the Patriot Front, a group based in Texas. There are more than 953 hate groups operating in the state, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
And while some online have expressed opinions that the flyers are an act of free speech, Duenwald strongly disagreed.
“This is not acceptable — there should be no other opinions,” Duenwald said.