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No charges in white supremacist sticker-tagging case in Bradenton

Written by on Saturday, September 2, 2023

An incident involving a white supremacist group in Brandeton this July looks very much like a racist intimidation attempt. Did anything come of it?

By Dean Gallo

Original Air Date: September 1, 2023

 

Official Transcript

Johannes Werner: An incident involving a white supremacist group in Bradenton this July looks very much like a racist intimidation attempt. It was not the first incident involving this group, and one of the presumed targets filed a complaint with the Manatee Sheriff’s Office. Anything came of it? WSLR Reporter Dean Gallo is following up.

Host: A police investigation into a racist incident in July in Manatee County has not led to any obvious result. “We continue to investigate incidents like these, and if there is evidence of a crime we’ll pursue charges,” the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said August 14th in an emailed response to an inquiry by WSLR News. So what happened?

Security camera photos from July 2023 show two individuals plastering shopping windows at a strip mall in Bradenton with the white supremacist stickers. The sticker advertised a now taken down website that appears to belong to an Endangered Souls racial club. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s website, Endangered Souls was originally a white supremacist biker club. The ADL says the “tiny” social club is led by Sean Mann of Bradenton and dedicated to “the advancement and preservation of white race.”

 

The Orange Blossom Plaza, where the sticker-tagging incident happened, features at least two minority-owned businesses: Salon Centric and Mr. Tequila’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant. It also is where the Manatee County Democratic Party rents office space. In addition to the stickers in their windows, the party also received mailings, both electronic and hardcopy. The sticker-taggers have only targeted nonwhite owned businesses and the Democratic Party’s offices.

 

This is not the first action involving Endangered Souls. In November 2019, someone distributed flyers at the Village of Arts, three miles from Orange Blossom Plaza. Those fliers, weighed down with rocks, cited the same club and white pride rhetoric. Now the perpetrators have been at the plaza multiple times, placing stickers. They have apparently not been identified.

The sheriff’s office received the security camera images in July. At the time, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office talked about a “person of interest.”

Sticker tagging has been popularized on TikTok at schools or on street and traffic signs. It’s preferred tool for those who don’t want to be on the scene long to lessen chances of being confronted. The Democratic Party filed a complaint in July. They have not received any updates from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Businesses and those with commercial interest in the plaza prefer to keep a low profile about the sticker tagging. Some business owners in the strip mall stated they were unaware of the stickers or of the media coverage of this and the 2019 incident. All refused to go on the record. An experienced property manager familiar with the region stated he feels reporting about the incidents has been exaggerated, but also declined to go on the record.

Evelyn Almodovar, the chair of the Democratic Party who works at the Orange Blossom Plaza offices, said that she would like to speak with the sticker-taggers if it can be done safely. Rather than to shame or accuse them, she says she just wants to understand.

Evelyn Almodovar: Well, I think that people just want to be heard and validated in their experiences. And I think that groups like this validate their experiences, and what they do is that they take their experience and they kind of, like, drive all that energy into something that is hurtful, that is not good for our community. But people do have the need to feel validated to share their experiences, tell them why they feel they are right.

 

Host: You can find images of the stickers on WSLR’s website, along with still images of the perpetrators and of the mailings to the Democrats, as well as the 2019 flyers.

This has been Dean Gallo with WSLR News.

 

WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm