TOWER GROVE—Flyers from a white supremacist organization that appeared across the 15th Ward in mid-March have been forwarded by city’s Public Safety Department to the FBI for investigation.
The office of Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards confirms that the flyers, from an organization called the Patriot Front, were sent to the St. Louis FBI field office to see if they may constitute a threat.
At the same time, the ward’s alderwoman, Megan Green, is charging that the city’s police union, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, may be connected to the flyers because they use the same language the association used against her during her unsuccessful campaign for President of the Board of Aldermen.
During the campaign, the police union’s Facebook account repeatedly attacked Green, calling her a communist. The posts featured the communist hammer-and-sickle emblem, with a red line through it, and the headline “Better Dead Than Red!” The Patriot Front flyers also used the “Better Dead Than Red” slogan, as well as the hammer- and-sickle with a blue arrow through it.
Green, who came in third in the race for Board President, is one of the plaintiffs suing the St. Louis Police Department over its use of chemical agents to break up protests in September 2017 following the acquittal of St. Louis Officer Jason Stockley in the fatal shooting of a suspect.
This leads Green to wonder whether the police union and its business manager and spokesman, Jeff Roorda, might be connected to the flyers.
“I have nothing to definitely link the SLPOA to them,” Green admitted. “But the problematic actions of Roorda and the POA might have emboldened this group. If the POA and Roorda continue to use hateful rhetoric, it sets an example for police officers, a bad example.”
The police union Facebook page, of which Roorda is an administrator, also posted “THE SNOWFLAKES ARE MELTING!!! The anti-police, pro-Green forces are outraged that a police organization dares to exercise free speech.” Another post read “Our posts are working! In true form, the commies are red with anger. Megan Green and her friends deny their communist leanings.”
Roorda did not respond to numerous email and telephone attempts to reach him for comment. Roorda has never been a St. Louis city police officer and lives in Jefferson County. A former Missouri state representative and police officer who was fired in 2001 from the Arnold Police Department in Jefferson County for lying and filing false police reports, Roorda has been a lightning rod for criticism and charges of racism.
When she campaigned in 2017, Mayor Lyda Krewson called for Roorda to be fired by the city police union for racial attacks on Krewson’s election opponent, Tishaura Jones.
“These flyers could be a coincidence. But they could be emboldened by Roorda and the POA,” Green said. “Roorda never seems to suffer any consequences.”
The group whose name is on the flyers, the Patriot Front, is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a white nationalist hate group” and is based in Dallas. The group was created after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, breaking away from another white supremacist organization called Vanguard America. A member of Vanguard America, James Alan Fields, plowed his car into a march by anti-racists in Charlottesville, killing a woman named Heather Heyer.
After that, the Patriot Front was formed because its leader, a 21-year old Texan named Thomas Rousseau, wanted the group to have a more “mainstream” appeal, and to become more “alt-right” than pure neo-Nazi, and avoid marches, Nazi-like uniforms, and swastikas, the Southern Poverty Law Center says.
The FBI’s Counterterrorism Policy Guide from 2015 concluded what white nationalist and white supremacist groups have successfully infiltrated many law enforcement agencies nationwide. The Domestic Terrorism Task Force of the FBI, which had helped track potential domestic terrorists in police and other law enforcement groups, has been largely dormant under Trump administration policies.
Edwards said in a recent interview that he will immediately fire any white supremacists found to be members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. No evidence so far has linked any current St. Louis city officers with white supremacist or white nationalist groups.