Fliers believed to be sent on behalf of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were found this week in Gloversville, the third time this year that white supremacist activity has been reported in the area.
City residents on Monday and Tuesday found the fliers tossed on stoops, porches and in driveways. The fliers said in large letters “save our nation!” with an American flag design, and depicted what appeared to be an image of an open Bible and a headstone with a hypodermic needle next to it.
The anti-drug fliers had a phone number for the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment referral service. The agency did not return an email and telephone request for comment.
“Just say no to drugs … Your family members, friends, and even your neighbors could be next,” the fliers said. The fliers were contained in sandwich bags along with a small amount of cat litter, which was likely used to weigh the bags down so they could be tossed from a vehicle.
The flier also said, “we care about you!” and included an image of a burning cross.
The other phone number found on the flier belonged to the Loyal White Knights of the KKK. A reporter called the number but nobody answered. A recorded answering message included information on the group’s “[N-word] of the month award” and ended with the signoff, “white power.”
Gloversville Mayor Dayton King said that while city leaders do not tolerate racism, it would be hard to charge the person or persons distributing the fliers with any crime as the speech contained within appears to be protected. Even under the city’s anti-littering statute, other groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, regularly leave leaflets at people’s homes.
“So where do you draw that line?” King said.
He added that the Gloversville Police Department did investigate and interviewed a person of interest, but that person was not charged with any crime. King declined to say whether police believe the person to be responsible for distributing the fliers.
“My fear is that they’re going to leave this on the wrong person’s lawn or porch and they’re going to get beat up,” King said. “Not that I condone that either, but I’m afraid that’s what might happen.”
King said it’s unclear if a serious racial element is operating in the area or if the fliers are the work of someone looking to provoke a response.
“It’s hard to say, it’s just crazy to me that people have the time to do this kind of stuff,” King said. “I’m all for free speech/ … I think it’s just really inappropriate and it certainly upsets people, and rightfully so. Unfortunately it could result in consequences worse than getting arrested.”
He also questioned the tactic of tying drug dealing and use to race.
“We arrest people of all races and economic status for selling and using drugs; we’ve arrested people who have tons of money and people who have no money,” he said.
In June, similar fliers, complete with sandwich bags containing cat litter, were found in the Fulton County village of Northville. The fliers in that case were advertising a KKK rally. The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said the cat litter is harmless and likely meant to make the bags easier to toss onto lawns. The sheriff’s office advised people to simply throw the bags out.
Fliers from the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan urging people to join the organization were found in Fort Plain in Montgomery County in February. An official with the Southern Poverty Law Center told The Daily Gazette in February that the organization saw an uptick in so-called lit drops by white supremacist groups throughout 2016.
A man who lives on Yale Street in Gloversville, who declined to give his name, said he found one of the latest fliers in his driveway Monday. He said he remembers hearing about the fliers in Northville in June and was sad to see that they reached his city.
“It’s nuts they showed up here in Gloversville,” he said.
Asked if he believes a white supremacist is working in the area or if the fliers can be chalked up to someone looking to get a rise out of people, he said: “I think it’s a little bit of both. As far as I’m concerned no normal person thinking would do that, but if he’s part way into his stupidity he probably would.”
Another Gloversville resident, Kelly Nellis, said she’s heard about the fliers but has not seen them around her First Avenue home. She added that she is surprised that there is KKK literature being distributed locally.
“I guess everyone has the right to freedom of speech, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others,” Nellis said. “If they’re leaving it laying around like that, it’s kind of like littering — littering litter.”