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30 Jan, 2017 22:36

’The KKK wants you’: White supremacist group delivers recruitment fliers in Maine, N. Carolina

’The KKK wants you’: White supremacist group delivers recruitment fliers in Maine, N. Carolina

The Ku Klux Klan, the nation’s largest white supremacist group, has distributed recruitment fliers to residents in Maine and North Carolina, spurring fears of increased hatred in an already-tense political climate.

Jack May discovered the fliers while jogging near his home in Freeport, Maine Monday morning. They depict a hooded figure in a Klan robe with the letters “KKK” shadowed by flames, proclaiming that the group is providing a neighborhood watch, allowing residents to “sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake! Are there troubles in your neighborhood? Contact the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Today!” The fliers were wrapped in plastic sandwich bags, weighed down with pebbles and placed at the ends of driveways.

“It’s really disturbing,” May told the Portland Press Herald. “I’m not someone who does well with hate, and now I feel like hate is all around me.”

“Everyone knows everyone in this town,” May told the Bangor Daily News. “It’s a very small town, a very sweet town.”

The speaker of the house for the Maine legislature, Sara Gideon, lives down the street from May. While she didn’t receive any fliers, she said she was disturbed and angry, but also determined to keep the KKK out.

“I and my neighbors and fellow Freeporters, at least, because I don’t know where else this has landed, will absolutely stand together and say that there is no place for these people anywhere in our community,” she told the Bangor Daily News. “The values they represent on that flyer or their voicemail is not ones any of us share and that we will absolutely, loudly drive them away.”

Residents in Augusta also received the recruitment materials, which list an 800-number. A recorded message at that number says the group is “a movement of white people for the highest standards of western, Christian civilization” that is “unapologetically committed to the interests and values of the white race… white people will simply not buy the equality propaganda anymore.”

The fliers aren’t illegal, other than being litter, Freeport Police Chief Susan Nourse said.

“It’s an informational flyer, so it’s letting people know what the phone number is and that the organization exists,” she told the Bangor Daily News.

“We went and collected them because they were reported to us as being offensive,” she said. “It’s something we wouldn’t want left at the end of driveways — it’s not like they were delivered to a residence, from the way they were packaged.”

Augusta Police Chief Robert Gregoire agreed: “There is no crime, other than it could be littering, by leaving these in people’s driveways,” he told the Portland Press Herald. “We’ve heard of these, in other parts of the country. At times, an organization like that will do something like this. It has a tendency to attract attention.”

In Gaston County, North Carolina, several families received fliers over the weekend. Robert Hord’s wife found one in their Cherryville driveway on Sunday.

"It was rather stunning, to say the least," Hord told the Gaston Gazette. "I would've hoped the world would've been a bit further past that, but I think that's probably just the hope."

In nearby Dallas, Shiela Johnston's son discovered a flier while riding his bike in the neighborhood.

"It's just scary," Johnston told the Gaston Gazette. "It's scary to look at. It's scary to think there are people like this skulking around our neighborhood."

Her son called the Indiana-based phone number on the flier, and was greeted by an expletive-laden voicemail that railed against African-Americans and refugees. It also asked callers to leave their name and address.

Back in Maine, May blamed President Donald Trump for emboldening the white supremacist group.

“They feel like they can get away with anything now,” he said. “They feel like they have the backing of the commander-in-chief.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, estimates that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 Klan members in the US today, spread among nearly 200 different groups. The KKK is the largest active hate group in the country.

Several KKK chapters have been actively recruiting over the last few years. Last January, residents in at least three states ‒ Alabama, California and New Jersey ‒ received similarly packaged material ahead of Martin Luther King Day, promising the group was white  people’s answer to the NAACP, La Raza and the Jewish Defamation League.

In August 2015, fliers were found in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, that depicted a cop in KKK gear pointing a gun at a black child and encouraging white people to vote for white candidates and “get the blacks out.” In July 2014, KKK promotional material in South Carolina included candy.