Pamphlets espousing ‘replacement theory’ were laid out on seats in a train car Sunday night. They are attributed to an Arkansas ministry whose pastor is the national director of the Ku Klux Klan.
By Matt Skoufalos | July 13, 2022
Pamphlets advertising “replacement theory,” a far-right, white nationalist, anti-immigrant conspiracy doctrine, were apparently anonymously distributed on PATCO Speedline cars last weekend.
The leaflets, which claim that America is besieged by “curses we face for turning against God,” were first discovered on a westbound train departing from Collingswood around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 11.
A PATCO rider, who declined to be identified for this story, found the papers on the train car in which they were traveling, and then noticed that copies had been laid out across three or four other rows of seats.
“As soon as I realized what it was, I grabbed all the pamphlets I could find,” the rider told NJ Pen.
Mike Williams, spokesperson for the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), which oversees PATCO, confirmed that the pamphlets were only placed on three seats in one train car, and that “the literature was subsequently removed by another passenger.
“PATCO is disappointed that someone used PATCO property to place this type of divisive material, and kindly reminds PATCO riders who see anything inappropriate while using the PATCO System to notify PATCO staff or use our ‘Look Up. Speak Up.’ mobile app,” Williams said.
Williams did not confirm whether DRPA would be filing a bias incident report as a result of its investigation. Collingswood Police did not respond to requests for comment at press time.
The leaflets feature contact information for the Christian Revival Center of Harrison, Arkansas, a Christian Identity group led by Pastor Thomas Robb, who has been the national director of the Ku Klux Klan since 1989.
The Southern Poverty and Law Center describes Christian identity as a “radically racist religious sect…rooted in antisemitism and white supremacist theology,” albeit one whose influence has waned since the 1980s.
The rider who identified the materials said they were particularly disturbed to think that the propaganda had been left there to harass and intimidate PATCO passengers.
“It’s a train that links Black, brown, and Jewish communities,” the rider said. “It’s easy to convince yourself that these people aren’t on the train with you, but they are.”
A continuing trend
In April 2022, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said 2021 had been a record-high year for reported bias incidents in the state.
In 2021, New Jersey law enforcement agencies logged 1,871 such incidents, up 29 percent from the 1,447 bias incidents reported in 2020.
The OAG noted that uptick is likely a combination of more thorough reporting metrics as well as an increase in bias crimes nationwide.
It’s the third consecutive year in which the state has established a record total for hate crimes reported, and anti-Black (877 incidents in 2021, 39 percent of the total) and anti-Jewish (347 incidents in 2021, 19 percent of the total) bias incidents are the most commonly reported racial and religious-based incidents.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) similarly reported that 4,851 cases of white supremacist propaganda were logged across the country in 2021, down slightly from the 5,125 reported in 2020.
Although the ADL identified at least 38 white supremacist groups in operation that year, three of them—Patriot Front, New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA) and Folkish Resistance Movement (FRM formerly known as Folksfront)—accounted for 91 percent of the incidents.
However, ADL reported that this is the first time, to its knowledge, that propaganda from the Christian Revival Center has surfaced in New Jersey. Andrew Goretsky, ADL Regional Director for Southern New Jersey, described the pamphlets placed on the PATCO Speedline as part of the troubling increase in white nationalist rhetoric.
“The white supremacist propaganda found on the train car in Collingswood is deeply concerning,” Goretsky said. “White supremacist propaganda allows extremist groups to disseminate hateful messages, spread fear and gain attention. This form of propaganda has been on the rise for several years, but it has absolutely no place in New Jersey or anywhere in America.
“The promotion of the virulently antisemitic and racist Great Replacement conspiracy theory is particularly disturbing, as this is the rationale used by the white supremacists who carried out mass shootings attacks in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, El Paso, Christchurch, and Poway. ADL is working closely with law enforcement and the community in response to this incident.”
A number of local bias incidents have already been identified this year in nearby Haddonfield, including racial slurs leveled at a junior varsity baseball player during a high-school competition, as well as swastikas that were spray-painted on trees outside the Haddonfield Friends Society and in the parking lot of the borough middle school.
This story was updated July 14 with additional commentary from the Anti-Defamation League.
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