NEW GLASGOW, NS
A New Glasgow man says he pulled down signs in Stellarton recently that he believes have racist undertones.
Bradley Johnson was walking home from a friend's house in Stellarton around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 1 when he heard a noise. Looking up, he says a man wearing a hoodie was putting up signs along the street in front of the Nova Scotia Community College campus.
“He was kind of being sketchy, because he was looking back and forth,” Johnson said Nov. 6.
Johnson says he stopped and looked at the signs. They read, “It’s OK to be white,” he alleges.
Johnson said he approached the other man and asked what he meant by it, but he says the man in the hoodie didn’t want to talk, saying only, “It’s OK to be whatever you want to be.”
The man then got in a car and drove away, Johnson claims.
Johnson says he took down the signs - he estimates there were between 10 and 12 of them - and says he saw the other man's car pass by a couple times as he did so.
The individual posting the signs has not been identified.
While Johnson said the message “It’s OK to be white” in itself seems innocuous, he believes it has racial undertones.
“The message he’s spreading is not wrong, in a sense. It is a harmless message, but the undertone is a mockery to the black lives matter movement,” he said. “That’s really what offends people from those communities.”
The message started on the imageboard 4Chan in 2017 as a way to provoke reactions, but according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), it has a long legacy. On its website, the ADL states it has tracked white supremacist fliers with the phrase “It’s OK to be white” as far back as 2005 and, in 2012, the organization discovered a member of Ku Klux Klan group United Klans of America used the hashtag #IOTBW on Twitter.
Johnson said he didn’t bother reporting it to the police or to the community college because he said he wasn’t thinking at the time about the seriousness of it.
Stellarton police chief Don Hussher confirmed police have had no reports of signs being posted.
NSCC Pictou Campus president Dave Freckelton said he received an email telling people to be on the lookout for the signs but hadn’t seen any around the campus. Still, he has asked the security members at the school to keep an eye out should any appear.
"We don't even entertain that kind of rhetoric," Freckelton said. "I wouldn't allow that stuff around the building or on our property.”
The campus is made up of about 700 students who he said are a microcosm of society, so he wouldn’t say it couldn’t be one of their students who put up the signs. However, he said the school's administration would not tolerate it.
“It speaks against everything we believe.”