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What you need to know for 02/23/2018

Group looks to combat KKK message in Saratoga Springs

Group looks to combat KKK message in Saratoga Springs

Peace alliance will host vigil Wednesday
Group looks to combat KKK message in Saratoga Springs
Fliers can be seen Sunday on cars on Alger Street in Saratoga Springs.
Photographer: ERICA MILLER

SARATOGA SPRINGS — More fliers were placed on cars on Monday, but this time from the Saratoga Peace Alliance.

A group of three members of the alliance went around the city on Monday and distributed fliers that read: “All peoples are welcome in Saratoga Springs. Ideas and groups and foster hate and violence are not.”

The flier then goes on to list a group of churches and organizations that support inclusion and diversity in the city.

Linda LeTendre, of the Saratoga Peace Alliance, said her group did this in response to fliers placed on cars by purported members of the Ku Klux Klan in the city on Sunday. She said it was their form of disobedience meant to send two messages to the hate group.

“One, this isn’t OK with us,” LeTendre said. “And this isn’t a town where the KKK is welcome.”

Several fliers containing racist and homophobic messages were found on cars in north side of the city Sunday morning. The fliers also invited people to join the KKK.

Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, said on Sunday the fliers are used as a recruitment tool, with a number for the hate group’s recruitment hotline.

This wasn’t the first time those fliers were found in the city.

Police investigated similar fliers found on cars in the city last May. They also were found in Fort Plain last February and Gloversville in late July and early August.

A news release was issued by the city on Monday regarding Sunday’s incident, calling the fliers “hateful” and “racist.”

The release included a statement that was signed by Mayor Meg Kelly, Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin, Commissioner of Accounts John Franck, Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan and Commissioner of Public Works Skip Scirocco.

“We as a City Council believe in the value of diversity in our community and are welcoming to people of all races,” the statement said. “Organizations condoning hate speech or other hateful activities do not have a home in our city.”

LeTendre said the alliance’s fliers are meant to promote groups that are “trying to make the world a better place.”

“That’s Saratoga. That’s the message we want to send out,” LeTendre said. “We are a loving community.”

Sunday’s incident is still under investigation by city police, according to Lt. Robert Jillson. He said while a person has admitted to putting the fliers found on cars Sunday, they are still determining whether anything criminal was done.

“We’re looking at it all today,” Jillson said,

Jillson said police won’t take any action against the fliers put on cars by the alliance, though.

“In this situation, [Police Chief Gregory Veitch] said he’s not looking to charge anybody with the incidents that took place today,” Jillson said.

LeTendre said she did give Veitch a heads up before they handed out their fliers.

LeTendre said the alliance is also planning a Valentine’s Day vigil on Wednesday in response to the fliers from the KKK. It will be held in front of the post office on Broadway, and she is encouraging people to bring instruments and treats to hand out in honor of Valentine’s Day.

“We want to make it a loving response that this is who we are,” LeTendre said.

The vigil will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

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