KKK fliers in our neighborhood
July 22, 2014 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Our neighbors received a KKK recruiting flier along with their Sunday newspaper. We didn't. We are an LGBT couple and I am Asian-American. What can I do to be less freaked out by this?

In our neighborhood, the recruiting fliers were in a plastic bag with a small rock in it. (Our neighborhood didn't get candy in the bag. Yay?) Media reports seem to suggest that there are several neighborhoods in suburban Richmond (and elsewhere) that received similar fliers, contemporaneously. Our neighborhood is solidly upper-middle-class, and is almost entirely white.

All of the neighbors we've spoke to (and who have posted on our neighborhood online message board) have expressed outrage and disgust. But I am interpreting the absence of a flier on our driveway as evidence the "care packages" were distributed by someone who knew that my family would not be extremely receptive to this particular recruiting drive. And that kind of freaks me out.

What can I do to feel less freaked out?
posted by QuantumMeruit to Human Relations (15 answers total)
It could be worthwhile to sit down (steel your stomach!) and visit some of their organizational pages. The nationwide KKK umbrella organization is laughably inept and disorganized, and smaller regional groups have very little power. As in the past, the main goal of any KKK-affiliated organization is to inspire fear and intimidation. What's different from the past is that, (to paraphrase Ani DiFranco) lynching is frowned upon--it is extremely unlikely that they'll attempt violence against you. So most likely, the worst they can do is try to intimidate you.

That said, if you feel that you are being specifically targeted or threatened, keep a log and remain watchful. Contact your local police and ask for more coverage in your neighborhood. If any evidence begins to mount that you and your family are being specifically targeted for violence or other harm, that is legally actionable. KKK or not, it's always illegal to make threats (and stalk, and make threatening phone calls, and etc. etc.)

The Southern Poverty Law Center does great work in this area and might be a good resource--or at least have some encouraging news for your situation. Good luck. This is shitty.
posted by magdalemon at 3:54 PM on July 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry you're dealing with this, what a horrid situation. Is it possible that the person who left the flyers guessed your ethnicity or orientation from the name/s on your mailbox or mail? I know that's an not entirely reassuring thought but it's slightly less scary than fearing that a KKK member has watched you entering or leaving your home.
posted by embrangled at 3:57 PM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

We get the occasional little rock in a baggy thing advertising lawn care and similar services, and it seems to be thrown from a passing car. It is totally possible that they couldn't get the next bag+rock out of the passenger's seat fast enough to hit your driveway. It is also totally possible that the thing landed underneath a shrub, or hit the curb and has ended up down a storm drain, or...

I mean, these are white supremacists, right? I hate to stereotype, but not exactly the class of people I'd look to to execute perfect 100% coverage of neighborhood advertising distribution.
posted by straw at 4:06 PM on July 22, 2014 [10 favorites]

One of your neighbors may have thought you would be offended and removed the flier before you got your paper, not realizing you would find out anyway. Were they distributed by the newspaper deliverer?
posted by Yorrick at 4:07 PM on July 22, 2014 [19 favorites]

I would have retrieved the package and thrown it away before you saw it if I were your neighbor.
posted by jbenben at 4:08 PM on July 22, 2014 [31 favorites]

I keep finding advertising flyers with the little rock in the bag that have ended up in shrubs and the like in my yard. (Always for yard care services -- maybe they are hoping I'll get tired of picking up their trash and hire yard service.) Generally they have weathered a bit by the time I come across them. I'd be really surprised if they aren't either missing a good number of houses and getting some twice as well with this sort of advertising tactic.
posted by yohko at 4:24 PM on July 22, 2014

Ugh, ick.

When you say "along with your Sunday newspaper," are you sure that it's being delivered *with* the newspaper? The bag-and-rock trick doesn't sound like it's part of the actual newspaper delivery, just someone going out early knowing that most people get a Sunday paper. And honestly I agree with yohko that they have terrible aim and probably didn't intentionally miss you.
posted by radioamy at 4:37 PM on July 22, 2014

Do you have any sort of LGBT rainbow flag type anything on your car or anywhere else visible to the street?
posted by whoaali at 4:54 PM on July 22, 2014

The baggie/rock combo is purpose-built to be tossed from a moving car. This is what you do for super-cheap, high volume, low attach rate advertisement, like a lawn care business.

In other words, it has all the hallmarks of "I don't care who lives in this house, I'm just going to throw one of these at every house in the neighborhood and hope one person out of a hundred actually reads it."

As an aside, when I saw "KKK flyer in a bag with a rock," my first thought was that this is was not an appeal to racists, but a scam preying on dumb people that also happen to be racists. "Yeah, our organization needs, um, donations. Yeah, that's it. Donations. Sure. Just make the check out to 'Cash.'"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:13 PM on July 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

The KKK is universally despised; I can't find opinion poll numbers for them, but here, from 2011, only 9% of Mississippians have a higher opinion of the KKK than the NAACP. They have a right to distribute childish newsletters, but don't think that your neighbors will have any reaction other than disgust.
posted by deadweightloss at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's a thing right now.
posted by rhizome at 5:50 PM on July 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Get a copy of the flier (or two) and take them to the police and the local DA. If possible, take a copy to your local television or newspaper affiliate. Publicity is the key to stopping this. If it is reported in the local news, advocacy groups will mobilize, I guarantee.
posted by daq at 9:41 PM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

They may have been going by a phone book or something and leaving the fliers for people with "white" names. Or maybe something else gave it away -- HRC sticker on your car or something? Or they accidentally skipped your house. Or your flier blew away. Or your mortified neighbor found it and threw it away before you could see it.

It's creepy as hell, but the KKK of 2014 is not exactly the KKK of 1920s. They have no power nor legitimacy and they generally don't engage in the horrible behavior they were able to freely get away with at other points in history. It's generous to even say this is the same group. Not to mention, there are plenty of other minorities around that they wouldn't need to focus on you. They aren't going to do anything to you. And you not getting a flier may have been a mere coincidence.

The fact that racism exists and these shitheads are doing it is very troubling. But I don't think you need to be specifically concerned beyond that. If you wish to show the police the fliers, just in case of any future incidents, by all means, you should. But I'd really try to not worry about it too much. These people are just idiots.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:09 PM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the reassurances -- I had not actually considered the possibility that a neighbor might have removed "our" baggie.

And yes -- our neighborhood was specifically mentioned in coverage on the local TV news when this happened, so there's definitely documentation and broader awareness.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 8:33 AM on July 23, 2014

There's an article in the New York Times today about a recent KKK flyering event in the Hamptons similar to yours - flyers in baggies with jolly rancher candies as weights - although this group apparently threw flyers at some Latino immigrant households too. Sounds like it's motivated by the immigrant-children story from this summer?
In fact, Robert J. Jones, who called himself the grand dragon of the Loyal White Knights, which is based in North Carolina, said in an interview that his organization was behind the Hampton Bays campaign and that it was motivated by the surge of immigrants entering the country.[...]

Similar efforts are underway around the country, Mr. Jones said. In Hampton Bays [Long Island], Mr. Jones said, the work is being done by a 32-year-old “active exalted Cyclops,” a man he declined to identify but who, he said, lives in town, where he runs a klavern, or local chapter, that is one of three in New York State. [...]

Despite whatever success Mr. Jones might claim, the K.K.K. today is a feeble group, according to those who track hate groups. Klan enrollment nationwide stands at about 5,000 over more than a dozen groups, said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. By comparison, the Klan had about four million members in the mid-1920s, when it was unified.

The Loyal White Knights, which was formed in 2012, is the largest Klan group in the country, Mr. Potok said, but the various groups are often squabbling and competing for members. He says the groups are using the immigration debate to gain attention. “It’s almost as if they’re getting the message from the narrative that’s out there,” Mr. Potok said. “It’s opportunistic.”
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:42 PM on August 29, 2014

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