Think of what might be inside a plastic lunch baggie: sandwiches, crackers, apple slices … Ku Klux Klan propaganda? Residents of Springfield last week were startled to find flyers promoting the KKK on their doorsteps sealed in sandwich bags with candies.
“It’s totally legal,” said Cole Thorton, Imperial Wizard of the Northern and Southern Knights of the KKK, about the distribution of the propaganda. He explained that the Klan works with the police to be sure they aren’t promoting anything unlawful or that might be “inciting violence.” Springfield police have said dropping the flyers on people’s lawns might be construed as littering.
When asked about the Hershey’s Hugs chocolate candies with the brown and white striping that were also found in the plastic bags, Thornton responded, “I think it was probably because it was Easter.” He described the flyer distribution as a “blanket drop,” as opposed to targeting specific people with the messages.
After flyers were discovered, an anti-hate rally was initiated by local human rights organizations, including the Springfield Alliance For Equality and Respect, Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC), Back to Back: Allies for Human Dignity, and the Eugene Chapter of the North American Alliance for Colored People (NCAAP). The groups gathered on April 18 with more than two-dozen community members to address the KKK flyers.
After discussing the issues surrounding the KKK flyer distribution, the rally split up and went door to door to distribute counter-flyers. The new flyers emblazoned with “No Hate Here!” described what to do when confronted with a possible hate-related activity. “While some people were very responsive,” said Kori Rodley, executive director at CALC, “others didn’t know about it, so an education factor in this case was a chance to be proactive.”
“The rally was meant to further educate people what the difference is between freedom of speech and hate speech,” Rodley said. By countering the message, she explained, “it gives something tangible and real that can say I’m opposed to this.”
— Stacey M. Hollis