On Saturday, just days from Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 10 residents of Leesburg, Virginia, one hour outside of Washington D.C., found fliers from the KKK outside their houses and along a running trail.
Northern Virginia police and the FBI are investigating.
"HOW CAN THIS BE IN 2018?" A Leesburg bishop is speaking out after someone threw a ziploc bag containing pro-KKK fliers onto his driveway. He says despite the hateful message, he forgives the person and that he believes it's more important than ever to spread love and unity pic.twitter.com/9ezDnmsHjl
— Aimee Cho (@AimeeCho4) January 14, 2018
One witness, Bishop Shawn Stephens, said a woman drove by his home and tossed a plastic bag out the window with a KKK brochure, bird seed, and a green Jolly Rancher hard candy inside.
The seed and candy appear to serve as a paperweight so the fliers from the white supremacists wouldn’t blow away.
A quick YouTube search shows this may be a common marketing method for the Klan. Stephens said:
“How can this be in 2018? How can this really be our reality at this stage of life? This is America, the land of the free,. I believe [Martin Luther King Jr.] would be heartbroken. He was impactful for every group out there. He fought for them. And he was a fair gentleman. And he was a gentleman that loved all people.”
A police spokesman said the fliers appeared to have been randomly distributed in neighborhoods with low foot traffic and police presence. The timing, however, is meant to disparage the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Police spokesman, Sam Shenouda indicated that there was little they could do about the problem.
“The issue comes in with laws that people are breaking, so if we were to pursue charges, we would be pursuing charges for illegal dumping and/or littering. But, again, we walk that fine line because if we start bringing people to court for that particular charge, then we potentially can be doing that to other individuals who are distributing things that are not concerning to the public, such as restaurant menus, flyers for upcoming events and so on,” Shenouda said.
The police had previously investigated similar incidents at Halloween when Leesburg residents found bags filled with candy and messages warning about “white extinction.”
Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Extremism and Anti-Defamation League, Mark Pitcavage, tweeted about the story:
“Whereas many Americans take time today to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his great relevance now, Ku Klux Klan groups often use the day to distribute fliers & other white supremacists use social media to proclaim ‘James Earl Ray Day.'”
Whereas many Americans take time today to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his great relevance now, Ku Klux Klan groups often use the day to distribute fliers & other white supremacists use social media to proclaim "James Earl Ray Day."https://t.co/v9maJ018Cq
— Mark Pitcavage (@egavactip) January 15, 2018
White supremacists have reportedly tried to subvert the Martine Luther King celebration by calling it “James Earl Ray Day,” after the criminal who assassinated Dr. King.
Newsweek reported that the FBI has seen:
“…A sharp uptick in hate crimes in the past two years.”
In fact, it’s up five percent in 2016.
Aimee Cho, for NBC News in Washington, tweeted video of the town coming together for the MLK parade anyway.
— Aimee Cho (@AimeeCho4) January 15, 2018
WTOP News showed a video of the Peace Walk & Parade in Southeast D.C. honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that took place despite the cold weather and the propaganda from the KKK in the area.
Featured image: Screenshot via Twitter.