This week, a Nazi flag was raised on a flagpole in a public park in Laramie, Wyoming. There are no hate crime laws in Wyoming so it's not a criminal act. Still, police are investigating the incident.
Stuart Tapson works in maintenance for Parks and Recreation in Laramie. He comes here to Washington Park at least four times a day to check on the splash pool. He said the flag incident doesn’t surprise him.
"[Over] in there, somebody wrote graffiti, and you've got somebody puts up a flag. I mean, you're not going to stop it. People just want to be stupid," said Tapson.
However, other community members do think these types of things can be stopped, including Sabrina King. She and about twenty other residents met last week to discuss a response, which included a demonstration that took place Saturday.
"But we also talked about how do we reach out to members of our community who are maybe feeling drawn in by white supremacists ideas, or by these groups. And really try to pull people back from the brink," said King.
They are planning to create and distribute yard signs that oppose hate speech and hate crimes. King said the signs were inspired by similar ones in Montana that residents put up following the appearance of anti-Semitic pamphlets on doorsteps in Missoula and across the state.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate groups have a presence in every state across our region.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.