White nationalist graffiti pops up in pedestrian tunnel in south Fargo
The graffiti in the tunnel frequented by families touts the Patriot Front, a white nationalist hate group.
FARGO — Graffiti touting a white supremacy group has littered a popular pedestrian tunnel in south Fargo.
Red, white and blue stenciled signs for Patriot Front popped up recently in the pathway that runs underneath Interstate 94 at Ninth Street South.
Sean Bourke of Fargo, who was walking through the tunnel with his son and dog on Wednesday, Aug. 3, said he first noticed the graffiti on the previous Saturday.
“If it’s white supremacy, you gotta get anything that’s hate-related out,” Bourke said.
Known as the Lincoln Tunnel, it’s located just north of Lincoln Elementary School and connects neighborhoods that lie north and south of I-94.
Tom Smith, owner of Great Northern Bicycle Company, said he used to go through it about 10 times a week when he was an avid runner.
Smith said he got permission about 15 years ago from city and state transportation officials to hose down and do maintenance in the tunnel because it would fill up with mud from time to time.
“That little piece of tunnel kind of feels like home and (now) feels like it's invaded a little bit,” he said.
The Forum requested comment from Fargo Police about the white nationalist signs and a spokesperson said he would look into the matter.
The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes Patriot Front as a white nationalist hate group that broke off from Vanguard America following the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
The SPLC website says Patriot Front “focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country.”
In June, the Red Raven Espresso Parlor, formerly located in downtown Fargo, was vandalized with white nationalist graffiti and stickers. One sticker had the words Patriot Front on it.
Also in June, 31 people associated with Patriot Front were arrested near a Pride parade in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Dressed in uniform and their faces covered in white cloth, they were charged with conspiracy to riot.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, more than 100 members of Patriot Front marched in Boston, carrying flags, riot shields and signs reading “Reclaim America,” according to a recent Washington Post article.
Smith said he hopes the Fargo community will work together to keep white supremacists out.
“That lives under the rug and when you… lift up the rug and shine light on it, it scurries away, one hopes,” Smith said.