Police investigating white supremacist propaganda spread in Delaware County town

The Anti-Defamation League tracked 1,143 reported white supremacist propaganda incidents from 2019-2022 in Pennsylvania.

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Police investigating white supremacist propaganda in Delco
Residents wonder why anyone would target their community with messages of hate.

RIDLEY TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Police and the Delaware County District Attorney's Office are investigating after someone distributed flyers promoting white supremacy organizations in several neighborhoods across the township.

Residents wonder why anyone would target their community with messages of hate.

Pam Gray has lived in the Swarthmorewood neighborhood in Ridley Township for 44 years, and she's never seen anything like what she found in her driveway.

"Sunday morning I was walking the dog and came up on one of these cards in a plastic bag with rice," said Gray of the items, which turned out to be flyers promoting white supremacy organizations.

"It was horrible messaging," she said of the flyers, one of which said, "Stand Up White Man."

The flyers also included QR codes and weblinks for organizations, which 6abc is not naming.

The Anti-Defamation League says that often times, groups disseminating that type of information do so in order to recruit by having their names publicized.

"It's not what this nice little street and all of Swarthmorewood is," said Gray.

"The entire incident is disgusting. And if we weren't on network television, I'd use worse language than that," said Delaware County First Assistant District Attorney Tanner Rouse.

The DA's office says the flyers were disseminated throughout Ridley Township.

"It was brought to our attention by a number of concerned citizens," said Rouse. "It was brought to our attention by the police department, and it was brought to our attention by the government of Ridley Township itself."

Ruth Ann Davidson is one of those residents concerned that white supremacists could be canvassing her neighborhood.

"I'm sure they drive around in cars at night and it's dark. That's how they do it," said Davidson.

Ridley Township police shared with Action News that the culprits likely threw the flyers from cars as they drove by. The flyers were in plastic bags with a substance inside to weigh them down in an attempt to make sure they stayed where they were thrown.

"This is the kind of stuff that we like to pretend doesn't happen, but it's very much real, and I don't think it was a coincidence that it was on Juneteenth weekend," said Helen Davidson of Folsom.

White supremacist propaganda has been showing up across the state. The Anti-Defamation League tracked 1,143 reported incidents from 2019-2022.

Delaware County State Representatives Leanne Krueger and David Delloso condemned the latest incident in a statement that read: "Any and all efforts to spread hate, incite violence or intimidate historically marginalized groups are unacceptable in ours or in any community."

"We are still investigating to see if this amounts to a threat and what the content of the literature is," said Rouse.

Even though they contain white supremacist propaganda, the act of distributing the flyers alone is not considered a crime.

Rouse explains, though, if there is a threat attached to the distribution, there could be charges related to ethnic intimidation laws.

Gray just hopes the culprit is caught soon.

"We're hoping nothing like this happens again," she said.

Police called neighboring jurisdictions. None of them reported similar incidents recently. Investigators hope cameras can help them track down the person or people responsible.

The Ridley Township Police Department and the Delaware County District Attorney's Office are both looking for tips in the case. Anyone with information can call Ridley Township Police Department at 610-532-4000 or Lt. William Wright of Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division at 610-891-4170.