A view of East Clearfield Street in Port Richmond. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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A spate of stickers promoting white supremacist organizations popped up in Port Richmond, seemingly over the weekend. Their numbers are quickly dwindling as residents pull them down.

White Lives Matter Pennsylvania — one of the groups featured in the stickers — shared a video Monday on its public Telegram channel showing people pasting the messaging on street poles, bollards, Parks & Rec signs, and other surfaces. 

In the caption, the group claims to be sending a “message of hope and defiance” to the “Delaware Valley,” describing it as necessary work to create “solidarity” among white people.

A post on reddit calling out the Port Richmond stickering garnered over 400 comments and sparked a discussion on racism and white supremacist views in the neighborhood. Matt, who posted the photos, came across the stickers while walking his dog on Monday morning. 

“I think the neighbors have shown that they’re not really standing for this, for the most part,” Matt told Billy Penn Tuesday afternoon. “But it doesn’t mean that the people that put them up aren’t still talking behind closed doors and doing whatever the hell they do.”

One of the stickers in the photo he posted to Reddit bore the slogan “Anti-racist is code for anti-white.” Another pledged solidarity with Kanye West’s recent antisemitic comments.

Matt, who asked to keep his last name private, said he took around 100 stickers down himself on Monday, though he couldn’t nab all of the hundreds more he saw. 

“I did about two miles of the area, up and down Richmond Street and up and down Edgemont Street,” Matt said. He’d planned to do more, but when he stepped outside today, he saw his neighbors had chipped in. 

“A lot of [street poles] were either clean — and cleaner than I got them off — or people put stickers over top of them,” said Matt. 

An officer in the 24th Police District, which covers the neighborhood, said there haven’t been any calls from residents about the stickers. 

Screenshot from a White Lives Matter video extolling recent stickering in the Delaware Valley (Telegram)

Stickering areas with antisemitic, far right, and white supremacist talking points is a tactic that has grown more frequent around the country in recent years, according to the Anti-Defamation League. 

Despite the general rise, these kinds of events have recently been on a slight decline in Pennsylvania, per the ADL. The organization counted 436 “hate incidents” spreading far right rhetoric in the commonwealth last year, slightly down from 473 instances the year prior.

A recently released “activist manual” from White Lives Matter describes stickering as an efficient tactic for small decentralized networks seeking to share media widely. The manual notes that the postings are primarily meant to shepherd attention to their Telegram channel, where interested observers can find ways to participate in white supremacist actions and meetings. 

Coordinated propaganda sharing, like what was seen in Port Richmond this week, can also be a precursor to further action, experts say.

Some of the recent Philly stickers promoted the New Jersey European Heritage Association, which mobilized earlier this month, joining other regional white nationalist groups in a small march claiming to be seeking justice for Adriana Kuch, a teen from Berkeley Township, New Jersey who died by suicide after being beaten and mocked by fellow high schoolers. 

Far right materials have been posted in various Philly neighborhoods in the past, but Port Richmond has a recent high profile resident connected to the ideology.

Zachary Rehl, son of two PPD officers and president of the Philly chapter of the Proud Boys, was arrested by federal officers at his Port Richmond home in 2021 over charges stemming from his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Matt referenced accounts of antisemitism and racism that his neighbors have shared with him, a reason why Port Richmond might be seen as a site ripe for this stickering campaign. Still, he thinks these stories aren’t indicative of the neighborhood at large, and that the response to the stickers shows things are slowly but surely getting better.

“I don’t think anyone’s surprised,” said Matt. “But, you know, I don’t think, living here, that truly represents my experience fully — and we’re not going to sit down and take it.”

Jordan Levy is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn, always aiming to help Philadelphians share their stories. Formerly, he has worked at Document Journal, n+1 Magazine, and The New Republic. He...