Burlington police investigate white supremacist vandalism

Published: Feb. 6, 2019 at 4:56 PM EST
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Two Burlington LGBTQ centers and a Queen City synagogue targeted by what police call a white supremacist group.

The Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, The Pride Center, and Outright Vermont, an LGBTQ advocacy center, were plastered with posters that police are calling an act of bias.

"It was plastered over our logo," said Mike Bensel, executive director of the Pride Center. He says he noticed the poster stuck to the center's front door Tuesday morning. "There are anti-LGBT sentiments, anti-semitic sentiments, racist sentiments that are involved in this poster."

The vandalism comes just a few days after a threat against staff at the Pride Center forced them to close their doors Friday and Monday.

"The concerns were enough for us to feel like we needed to close down the center and reevaluate what our safety protocols were," Bensel said. He says the poster just added to the uneasy feelings staff members were experiencing. "For a staff that was already shaken, it was definitely concerning."

"Those stickers were affixed to exterior surfaces by a person or persons unknown," said Burlington Police Deputy Chief Jon Murad. He says because of the organizations targeted, they are calling the vandalism acts of bias. "Frankly, the group with which the stickers are associated is a white supremacist intolerant group. It is one that is not in keeping with the values of Burlington and Burlington's residents."

Murad says there are no threats associated with the vandalism. Police believe the group, Patriot Front, is connected to the posters. "Public safety is a shared responsibility, and accordingly we are asking the public to assist us in determining whether or not there have been any other acts of this kind of vandalism in the city," he said.

The group claims they placed banners in Vermont and have shared similar images that were found in Burlington on their social media. Police are continuing their investigation into the posters.

Mayor Miro Weinberger says Burlington is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive community.

"Now more than ever, we must remember that our diversity makes us stronger, and stand together in the face of a group that would seek to sow division and mistrust among us," said Mayor Weinberger.

This is not the first time Patriot Front has targeted spots in our region.

We told you about the group last year after signs surfaced from the group in Plattsburgh last winter.

And they caused a stir on this side of the lake after allegedly holding a small gathering around the same time in Burlington.