Brad Cerenzia and his neighbors are leading a campaign to fight hate in South Park. Their efforts began nearly two weeks ago, when posters started appearing across the neighborhood encouraging community members to report "illegal immigrants" to the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement hotline.
"I have neighbors who are scared to leave their houses because they hear about ICE raids happening, and even if they're here legally, they're terrified," said Cerenzia, who has lived in South Park for about 14 years. "We will not let this stand."
Now, the neighborhood group is tacking up its own strong message, which is available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese: "Wherever you're from, we're glad you're our neighbor," the group's own fliers say. Cerenzia says he and some of his neighbors tore down the hotline fliers, replacing them with this new message.
"Dozens" of the anti-immigrant flyers are posted every other day, Cerenzi noted. In an e-mail to The Stranger, a member of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition said they had taken down 50 flyers in the last week and a half.
Another South Park resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she'd never seen posters targeting minorities in the neighborhood before. She said she believes the messages are "fueled by that kind of rhetoric we've been seeing recently" from President Donald Trump's administration.
Cerenzia said he encountered a man whom he believes to be one of the people hanging up the anti-immigrant posters. He recorded their conversation and shared it on YouTube.
The Stranger was unable to reach the man for comment.
Will Skubi, a longtime resident of South Park seen in the video above, said he has been hanging the flyers around the neighborhood. His intention is "not to intimidate neighbors," but to "encourage citizens to report to ICE directly to report illegal immigrants," he said.
In the video, Skubi defended the posters and claimed that Cerenzia was impeding his right to freedom of speech by tearing his posters down. As I recently explained in a feature exploring the limitations of free speech, hateful speech is protected. However, non-violent and vocal opposition to hateful speech is also permitted.
Skubi said that Cerenzia's claim that he is creating a threatening environment for South Park's immigrant community is an "outrageous accusation." When asked whether he was concerned about undocumented parents being taken away from their children, Skubi said that "children have the responsibilities of their parents. The parents created this situation, not me."
As ICE detains and deports "illegal immigrants," Skubi said he hopes that housing would open up for homeless citizens in Seattle.
"[Conservatives] are terrified because they don't trust or understand the experiences of other people," Cerenzia said. "We're speaking out so strongly because we we're in a position under the Trump administration where we're fucked and doomed if we don't speak out earnestly about what matters to us."
Have you seen any bias-based messages in your neighborhood? Report them to The Stranger.
This story has been updated.