Administrators at Montgomery Blair High School are investigating how fliers reading “It’s okay to be white” came to be around the Silver Spring school.
Security cameras captured an unknown person whose face was obscured by a hooded sweatshirt posting one of the inflammatory fliers -- which appeared at numerous schools across the United States and Canada – before they were discovered by staff members early Wednesday morning.
In a letter sent to parents of Montgomery Blair students, Blair Principal Renay Johnson explained that the fliers were found when staff arrived at the school at 5:45 am that morning, but were immediately removed before students arrived for school that day.
Johnson assured parents that she and her staff – whose research has found the fliers to be part of a national campaign to foment racial tensions – are taking the seriously and are continuing to investigate.
“I want you to know that Montgomery Blair is a very smart, diverse and inclusive community and we will not fall victim to attempts to divide us,” Johnson said. “We are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for every student.”
While a Montgomery County Police public information office staffer acknowledged that the MCPD is aware of the incident, but explained that it is not being investigated by the police.
Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Derek Turner noted that the fliers had only appeared at Blair and not any other schools, while downplaying any police involvement.
“My understanding is this is not an arrestable crime, just putting up a flier,” Turner said.
Turner added that hate-related incidents were at an all-time high during the 2016-2017 school year, but said that at eight weeks into this year’s school year, “it’s been quieter this term, I think.”
In addition to appearing at Blair, the same fliers were also found at the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta’s School of Native Studies, and Harvard University as well ast colleges in Ohio and Louisiana, the Canadian local news website BlogTO reported, and appeared to be inspired by an Oct. 31 posting on the 4chan Internet message board.
The 4chan posting suggested that readers print the fliers and post them at campuses around the world while in costume in order to make “the media” go “completely berserk.”
The 4chan message board is popular among the so-called “alt-right” and is often a source of inspiration for hoaxes meant to trick reporters into printing false information, as well as bias incidents meant to inflame racial tensions. The website is also a gathering place for some of President Trump’s most ardent supporters.
On the “alt-right” linked crowdfunding site Hatreon, a fundraiser created by a user called “It’s Okay to be White” asked donors to pay $60 per month to support the campaign, noting “Hey guys! We are the original anons behind the ‘It’s okay to be white’ campaign, isn’t it going great!?”
The persons claiming to be behind the campaign suggested that their next move is to post “GIANT” banners with the slogan “where lots of cool people can see it,” and promised to continue posting “these positive fliers and posters for as long as people continue to love them.”
Persons with information regarding the source of the fliers seen at Montgomery Blair are asked to call the school’s security team leader, Darryl Cooper, at 301-649-2800.