EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been edited for the safety of individuals speaking on the record.
SAN MARCOS — Residents have removed a number of stickers representing a white supremacist group found displayed around the San Elijo Hills neighborhood in San Marcos, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.
Law enforcement is investigating the displays, which were first noticed by residents on Wednesday, but have deemed the stickers to be vandalism not hate crimes, according to Ricardo Lopez, a spokesperson at the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
According to the FBI’s website, a hate crime is a criminal offense against a person or property motivated by the offender’s bias — but hate itself is not a crime.
As of Thursday morning, seven stickers associated with National Alliance, a white supremacist group, have been found attached to traffic signal poles and electrical boxes. No witnesses or suspects have been identified at this time, police said.
San Elijo Hills resident Kelley (who asked her last name not be published) removed a National Alliance sticker from an electrical box near Morgan’s Corner, a neighborhood within the residential community of San Elijo Hills, early Wednesday morning before notifying the police.
Since Kelley first posted about the incident on Facebook, more residents have followed her lead, finding and removing multiple stickers around town.
“I was shocked, disgusted and enraged,” Kelley said. “I’m not fearful. [I want to] create change and to not have these tokens of hate infiltrating our neighborhood.”
San Marcos City Councilman Randy Walton shared photo evidence of the stickers with the city later Wednesday afternoon, and public works staff were directed to remove any of the hate symbols they can find.
“It’s obviously a crime of hate even if it’s just graffiti,” Walton said. “I know that I speak for the whole city when I say that we condemn the posting of racist stickers in the strongest terms possible, and we all hope that it’s not somebody who lives around us.”
Organized in 1974, the National Alliance’s website reads, “We believe that no multi-racial society can be a truly healthy society, and no government which is not wholly responsible to a single racial entity can be a good government.”
Seeking guidance and support, Kelley reached out to the Anti-Defamation League, an international organization that aims to help communities fight anti-Semitism and bigotry.
“A lot of people are really, really scared,” Kelley said. “But that’s what they want you to do, is create fear. So screw that.”
Residents will hold an event called “No Space For Hate in SEH” at 12 p.m. on Sunday, August 9, at the San Elijo Fountain to “say no to fascism, white supremacy and hate” in their neighborhood.