By Brenda Flanagan
Norm Krauschaar felt stunned after finding plastic baggies stuffed with solicitations from the Ku Klux Klan, weighted with caramel candies and tossed onto people’s lawns along Washington Street in Red Bank. The fliers decried the “accelerated browning of America” and contain racial slurs against African-Americans and Hispanics. Krauschaar called police.
“We’ve been here five years and I just don’t get it,” Krauschaar said.
“That’s horrible. Absolutely horrible,” said Grace Greenberg.
Greenberg says it felt like an awful ghost from decades in Red Bank’s past.
“My father said in the ’30s, he would see the Ku Klux Klan marching in Red Bank. Things have changed, and have changed much for the better,” Greenberg said.
These fliers apparently come from the White Knights of the KKK in North Carolina. What community leaders find alarming is people discovered Klan pamphlets like these distributed in mixed-race neighborhoods from California to Ohio and across the south.
Red Bank Police Chief Darren McConnell says his officers collected several fliers as evidence.
“The content is horrible and especially under the circumstances — whether it is related to South Carolina or not — it’s particularly bad timing,” McConnell said.
Just two weeks ago, a shooter spouting racist ideology gunned down nine African-Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, leading to emotional arguments over the Confederate battle flag. Several black churches have burned across the South — at least three incidents attributed to arson. But these events motivate the Klan to act, and this particular Klan sect is listed among New Jersey’s 40 active hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The Klu Klux Klan in America today is very weak, very small — perhaps 4,000 clansman in all across the country — and they have been doing this kind of flier-ing in order to get attention. New Jersey is viewed as relatively fertile soil. These groups tend to look for places, communities that are changing racially because that is typically where you get the real conflicts and a rise in hate crimes,” said Mark Potok, Editor-in-Chief of The Intelligence Report for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In fact, the KKK pamphleted Rutherford last December, when residents found about 100 fliers packaged in plastic. Police can’t charge them with anything, except maybe littering. The state NAACP calls these Red Bank fliers typical KKK.
“Back in the day they used to go around wearing hoods, scared to show their faces, sneaking around at night while they burned crosses on our lawns and burned down our churches. We have to remain vigilant. We have to continue to fight. We will do that,” said Richard Smith, NJ NAACP President.
The two-page flier also contains a poem most people would find incredible offensive. It’s about the president, and it’s full of the N-word and racial slurs. Just what you’d expect from the Klan.