Culture | March 24th, 2022
HBCUs Brace The Rise In Supremacist Threats
By: Micah Barkley
Picture this: It’s only the second month in 2022, and contradictory to it being dedicated to uplifting Black Americans, the rise in white supremacist threats reach an all-time high. From the accumulation of bomb threats targeted to HBCU’s to the rise of a new Supremacist group, Patriot Front (PF), the emergence of macro aggressions against people of color presented itself during this year’s Black History Month.
Footage leaking online of the Neo-Nazi group “Patriot Front” in Tallahassee, Fla., alarmed students in the college town. The group formed in 2017 from a fallen group called Vanguard America, emphasizing that non-whites are not “American.” Uncovered as a member of the hate group is Calvin Stow-Ortiz, a freshman at Florida State University (FSU), known as Arthur FL within the supremacist organization.
Stow-Ortiz was uncovered as a member of this hate group after emails containing lyrics to a “Marching Song” he hoped PF would adopt, were leaked by Unicorn Riot Media. Stow-Ortiz’s leaked messages also revealed he was not stationary in spreading hate and traveled to Bainbridge, Thomasville and Valdosta, GA to share his group’s propaganda.
Victoria Pagán, a first year student at FSU, fears for her life on her own campus. “While I feel a lot of things, mainly I feel disheartened and terrified for my friends and myself.”
This specific incident raised alarms once Tallahassee Students For A Democratic Society brought to light that Ortiz and his friends planned on spreading their propaganda to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s campus, where 92.28 percent of the population are minorities that the hate group specifically targets with genocidal motives.
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Ally Walchak, Tallahassee regional organizer for Planned Parenthood of south, east and north Florida, explains that she was unaware the grave incident until recently. “The fact that I hadn’t heard about it as soon as it happened is shameful,” she said. The 24-year-old explains that she works with students on both FAMU’s and FSU’s campus and instantly became concerned for the student’s safety and the community as a whole.
Dennis Schnittker, assistant vice president for University Communications at Florida State University, provided a statement to Journey Magazine regarding the incident. “We are looking into the veracity of these allegations to determine if this student has potentially committed any violations of the student code of conduct or criminal offenses that need to be referred to law enforcement.”
In the statement, Schnittker emphasizes that FSU values the freedom of expression and speech and the right to assemble freely. “Individuals are entitled to personal beliefs, even if they are despicable and antithetical to our values as a university,” he said.
Supremacist threats pose a major threat to Florida A&M University after it was noted that Ortiz planned on spreading propaganda around the predominantly Black campus to instill fear. Marlana Lawrence, a broadcast journalism student at FAMU, explains that she is terrified at the rise of this neo-nazi group because it is not a new idea that they are a threat to this HBCU.
“I can’t tell you how many times I have been followed around in stores or called racial slurs. When I see a group being formed like this and the media isn’t talking about it, it concerns me,” Lawrence says. With FAMU residing minutes from The Capitol, many students believe that this issue should be at the helm of discussion.
“Tallahassee and North Florida overall is known to be extremely racist,” Lawrence continues. “People have been targeting FAMU for years. With knowing the history and the amount of lack of care this country has for schools like ours, groups like this terrify me.”
At this point in time, nothing is known of the extent that Ortiz will be interrogated, The only process of movement is from FSU president Richard McCullough in the public statement to those involved with FSU festivities: “We ask that we each do our part to promote civility and respect.”
As for demanding justice for this blatant macro aggression across the nation, there should be no need to share it on educational grounds. “The last thing any student should do is fear for their lives and the lives of their peers,” said Págan.