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Bettendorf neighbors speak out against 'hate propaganda' that appeared the morning after a controversial forum

Bettendorf neighbors speak out against 'hate propaganda' that appeared the morning after a controversial forum

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Quad-Cities free publications have been hijacked and used to distribute National Alliance information. The National Alliance is a neo-Nazi/white supremacists organization.

George Bleich was returning to his Bettendorf home on Pinnacle Pines Court Tuesday morning when he saw something out of place lying in his front yard.

"George thought maybe it was a newspaper rolled up," his wife, Cynthia Bleich, said. "When he picked it up, he was shocked. He looked around and saw there were some other rolled-up pages on our neighbors' driveways.

"We have lived in this neighborhood for 15 years and we've never seen anything like that around here. It was shocking and upsetting."

What George Bleich found Tuesday morning was a rolled up edition of the free publication Quad Cities Dining Guide, bound by a sticker from the National Alliance that read "Send them back. They can't make white babies."

Cynthia Bleich said she knew the National Alliance, a white nationalist group, has been active in distributing literature in the Quad-Cities for many years, but wanted to contact media immediately "especially after what went on at that church here in Bettendorf Monday night."

"You have to stand up and reject this kind of hate," Bleich said.

She was referring to the immigration forum, put on by Scott County Teenage Republicans, held at Pleasant View Baptist Church on Monday.

The event was billed as featuring far-right activists Scott Presler and Dylan Wheeler; Republican candidates for Iowa's second congressional seat, Bobby Schilling and Mariannettee Miller-Meeks; and "angel families," families who had a loved one killed by someone in the country illegally. But the evening ended with a speech by far-right activist Nick Fuentes, who appeared at the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

An active podcaster, Fuentes, 21, leads what he calls a "Groyper War" against anyone who fails to condemned immigration from non-white, non-European countries, and advocates for America to be a “monoculture.” He answered audience questions, during which no one pushed back against his remarks or disavowed him.

After news of Fuentes' appearance spread, the church's pastor, Schilling and Miller-Meeks condemned Fuentes and his views.

Cynthia Bleich said she thought Monday's forum and controversy may sparked another round of National Alliance propaganda.

"It's the perfect time to capitalize on one the messages from that forum. It really bothers me that nobody at that church even stood up and disagreed with what Fuentes said," she said. "My husband and I and our neighbors really struggled with how to do this — we know we have to speak out and reject this garbage thrown on our property. But at the same time, we don't want to give this National Alliance any more publicity."

Cynthia Bleich and her neighbor, Rex Grove, said they "fear for the young people who get such intolerant messages."

"We know this was a Young Republicans group that hosted this event," Grove said. "How sad that young people are told horrible things about the people who come to this country."

Bleich said she hopes more people speak out against "hate propaganda."

"I live in a neighborhood where every year we all — including my Jewish neighbor — share a holiday party," Cynthia Bleich said. "I'm an active volunteer at a food pantry and I'm a person who believes in freedom for all.

"I wonder why we don't have people who go around and tell stories about how immigrants and their families come here seeking safety and how hard they work to make a better life," she said. "That used to be the American story. I wonder why we never tell that story anymore."

Grove said he found the flyer at the bottom of his drive at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"The dog and I went out for a walk and there it was," Grove said. "It's sad to admit this, but I knew right away what was. I knew what it would basically say. Face it, this kind of stuff is back — or it's worse than it's been in a long time.

"It must have been 20 or 30 years ago that I got some of this propaganda at the end of my driveway when I lived in the McClellan neighborhood. You hope something like that goes away, but the way things are now I just knew what it was."


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