By Justin Cohen, News Staff Writer
Posted 12:46 PM EST, Mon., Oct. 3, 2016
Ku Klux Klan (KKK) flyers are terrorizing the community of Columbus, Indiana. The flyers that were recruiting new members shocked many residents in the central Indiana town.
The residents of the town believe a new Klan cell is behind the flyers and the town is struggling to calibrate a response.
Jaimi Hazjus, a woman from the town of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, woke up one day to similar troubles.
Someone went house-to-house in Hazjus’ neighborhood placing plastic bags, weighed down with rocks, containing lollipops and racist leaflets with phrases such as, “Are there troubles in your neighborhood? Contact the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan today!” and, “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!” The leaflet is also adorned with a hooded Klansmen pointing to the reader similar to the famous Uncle Sam recruitment poster.
“It’s hard to know how strongly to approach this,” Hazjus told the Washington Post. “I feel like they’re trying to pick a fight, and I don’t want to bring a gun to a knife fight.”
The small Pennsylvania town is not the only one to receive these flyers. Similar packages have been turning up all over the country from California to New Jersey. In all instances, a flyer had been found along with candies in a plastic bag weighed down with rocks, all placed on people’s lawns.
Only a day after the baggies appeared in Coudersport, they began showing up at homes in Whittier, California, according to the Los Angeles Times. The package in Whittier also contained a phone number and mailing address for the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. A week earlier the flyers were found by 100 residents of Fullerton, California.
In July, the fliers were found on the lawns of hundreds of residents in three Indiana counties. The flyers in Indiana denounced homosexuals and immigrants and called for people to “wake up” and join the KKK, the Indiana Star reported on July 25. The flyers have been appearing in Michigan, Alabama, New Jersey, Kansas and South Carolina, among other states, since 2015.
Just days after the Charleston church massacre shooting in June 2015, the flyers began popping up in California, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. The Rockdale County Sheriff’s Department in Conyers, Georgia responded to the threat promptly and seriously. “Whether it was a joke or from an organization doesn’t matter to me,” Sheriff Eric Levett told The Daily Beast. “The fact that it was done during this time is ignorant and cowardly.”
It is hard to tell whether this is part of some national campaign or is just the result of KKK groups mimicking each other. Individual cells tend to be highly decentralized and unorganized.
KKK cells became more prominent in 2015, growing from just 72 chapters nationwide to 190 last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks extremist activity.
Police response has been generally subdued, as the flyers are well within the KKK’s First Amendment rights. Aside from monitoring KKK activity in their own states, there is not much the police can do about the situation.
In Coudersport, Hazjus has said community members are taking matters into their own hands. Her and fellow community member Joe Leschner have started a Facebook group to organize concerned citizens. Leschner is also collecting the bags containing the fliers to ship them back to the KKK chapter whose address they posted on the flier.
“It’s really creepy,” Leschner said in a Facebook live stream he posted. “I have no idea what this mess is, but it’s not wanted in our town.”