A Rochester-based antifascist group posted about 250 fliers around Honeoye Falls earlier this week that identify a village resident marching in a rally attended by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend.
“No Nazis in our neighborhood,” read the words emblazoned in large, bold type across the tops of the fliers, which also show a picture of a group of demonstrators carrying tiki torches on the campus of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville the night of Aug. 11. One man carrying a torch near the bottom right corner of the image is circled.
The fliers identify the circled man as Jerrod Kuhn and claim that he is a “leading figure with the Daily Stormer, an avowedly neo-Nazi website around which local groups have been organizing to promote anti-Semitism, white supremacy and violence against LGBTQ communities.”
Speaking early Wednesday afternoon outside his Honeoye Falls residence, Kuhn staunchly denied being a neo-Nazi, calling the assertion “a crazy accusation.”
“I’m not a neo-Nazi. I don’t belong to a German workers’ party from 1933,” he said. “... I’m a moderate Republican.”
Kuhn, a 2015 graduate of Honeoye Falls-Lima Central Schools, said he traveled to Charlottesville solely to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from one of the city’s parks.
“It’s a piece of history, and I thought that it should remain,” he said. “It’s important to me that we preserve American history no matter how ugly the past is it’s associated with.”
The group of tiki torch-carrying individuals Kuhn marched with in Charlottesville was recorded on video shouting slogans such as “You will not replace us,” “Jews will not replace us,” “blood and soil,” and “white lives matter” as they marched across the University of Virginia’s campus the night of Aug. 11.
The phrase “blood and soil” rose to prominence in 1930s Germany and was adopted as something of a mantra by the Nazi party, eventually becoming synonymous with its master race ideology.
Marchers scuffled with counter protesters during the march Kuhn participated in, but no video or photographs show Kuhn engaging in any physical altercations.
The flier, an image of which was posted to the antifascist group’s Facebook page, has been shared and commented on widely on social media. The flier also gives Kuhn’s approximate address in Honeoye Falls, which the Livingston County News is withholding.
The fliers were printed and distributed by volunteers with Eastside Antifascists, a group that was formed “in the wake of violence from the far right that erupted during and immediately after the Trump election.”
That’s according to Peter Berkman, a volunteer with the group that distributed the fliers identifying Kuhn as a marcher.
Speaking Wednesday, Berkman said the fliers were printed up and distributed in an attempt to make residents of Honeoye Falls aware that they were living in close proximity to Kuhn.
“People have a right to know if their neighbor is a violent neo-Nazi just as much as they would if their neighbor was a violent sex offender,” said Berkman. “I think it’s important that people know the dangers the community faces and we think people having that information is important for them to protect themselves.”
Asked whether he thought his group’s actions put Kuhn at risk of harm, Berkman said at no point has anyone called for violence or aggression against Kuhn.
“I want to emphasize that very clearly, we have never at any point suggested that we’re calling for really any action against him or anyone he’s associated with,” he said.
Berkman also defended the decision to identify Kuhn on the flier by name and address.
“The idea that we can walk away from last weekend, a moment when neo-Nazis literally killed people in the streets of Charlottesville (by) driving a car through a street full of innocent bystanders and then say we’re worried about the safety of a neo-Nazi is pretty crazy to me,” he said.
According to Berkman, Eastside Antifascists came to the conclusion Kuhn was a neo-Nazi by tracking his online activity, especially on the Daily Stormer’s website, over a period of time. Berkman also claimed that members of Eastside Antifascists followed and photographed Kuhn attending a meeting of Western New York fascists this past winter.
According to media reports, the Daily Stormer has gone back to the dark web after all web hosting sites removed or refused to host the website.
On Wednesday, Mashable.com reported that GoDaddy removed the neo-Nazi website as a client and Google banned the group from its domain service and removed its YouTube channel. Facebook has also removed links to a Daily Stormer article disparaging Heather Heyer, the woman killed Aug. 12 when she was struck by a car in Charlottesville. Recode.net also reported Wednesday that Twitter suspended accounts associated with the neo-Nazi website.
Speaking Tuesday, Honeoye Falls Mayor Rick Milne said the fliers were found on East and Ontario streets, in a park in the center of the village and under rocks next to private homes.
“I don’t know much more besides that except that there were quite a few that were picked up,” said Milne. “Our staff members were instructed to take them down as they saw them. We had a couple residents say they were on their property. They took them down and brought them to the office.”
Milne confirmed that he had called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to alert it of the situation both because the fliers identify a resident by name and address and because the fliers were placed in private and village-owned property without permission.
“A patrol officer stopped out, probably took some information as evidence and now it’s in their hands,” he said. “It’s one thing to voice your opinion about a group… it’s another thing to mention a specific name.”
A spokesperson for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Milne made clear that in no way, shape or form does he support or condone “anyone who is a member of a Nazi group, a neo-Nazi or white supremacist” group.
“I do not want them in Honeoye Falls,” he said. “Personally, I do not want individuals living in Honeoye Falls that are like that.”
On Aug. 12, the day after the torch-lit march Kuhn participated in, white supremacists clashed with counter protesters on the streets of Charlottesville. At one point, a Nazi-sympathizer, James Alex Fields, allegedly drove a car through a group of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19.
Video shot by Paul Blake for the BBC, accessible online at bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40952796, shows Kuhn at the protest shouting and making aggressive movements and gestures toward counter protestors. The video does not show Kuhn attacking or coming into physical contact with counter protestors. Kuhn can be seen at the 1:28-minute mark of the video.
Kuhn declined to answer any more questions Wednesday afternoon outside his residence in Honeoye Falls, but was quoted in a Democrat and Chronicle article confirming he had attended the Aug. 12 demonstrations, but that he left after about 30 minutes once they started to turn violent.
Kuhn said the fliers have ruined his life and that, after they were posted around the village, he and members of his family have received death threats. Law enforcement has been made aware of the threats, said Kuhn, but he thinks he’ll probably have to move out of the area.
“I can’t live in this community anymore. I’m in the process of figuring out what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m 21 years old and now my life is over in this area.”
Berkman had a different take.
“These folks don’t just get to be weekend neo-Nazis and then come home and live comfortably without having people around them knowing who they are,” he said. “It’s important that people know who he is and that this person is in their community and to proceed with caution.”
n Recode report on efforts against Daily Stormer, http://tinyurl.com/y8f3u4tm