KKK fliers distributed in Kent, Sussex towns

SEAFORD — Free speech rights allowed the recent distribution of racially charged Ku Klux Klan fliers locally, Seaford Police learned Tuesday.

Authorities earlier had asked the Delaware Department of Justice to evaluate the legality of the messages in clear plastic bags placed at three locations in town on Sunday through Monday, and then received word from the DOJ that they could be placed in public places.

Residents in several other Kent and Sussex communities received similar fliers as well.

While local authorities said they in no way support the values included in the messages, the constitutional First Amendment right was considered as well, thus the request for the DOJ’s advice. No charges will be pursued after the finding, Seaford Police said.

Spokesman Senior Corporal Eric Chambers issued a news release notifying the public of the fliers and asked anyone who has located any to call the department at 629-6644.

“It is also requested that anyone who may have information leading the identification of the individual or individuals who are passing these out to please contact the Seaford Police Department,” Cpl. Chambers said.

Harrington Police reported that several similar fliers were placed in an area near U.S. 13, described by Chief Norman Barlow as being not “It wasn’t spread all around town. It was isolated in a central location.”

Both agencies said racially centered messages dispersed in such a public manner was previously unheard of in their communities.

“This is a first for me,” Chief Barlow said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. We don’t even know if it’s someone randomly trying to start trouble or what.”

Cpl. Chambers echoed those thoughts in Seaford, noting that in his nearly 17 years there “It’s definitely nothing I’ve ever seen before. I don’t think it was done to rile anyone up, it was a recruitment (effort).”

Dover Police also received a report of a flier inside a bag with an advertisement for a KKK radio show and group thrown in a yard, but did not consider it threatening in nature. Small stones were placed in a plastic bag to weigh it down, as was the case in other communities as well.

“While we completely disagree with the group’s message, there was nothing illegal about the advertisement itself,” spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

While the message delivery method was “highly unusual” in Dover, Cpl. Hoffman said, “the tactic itself is often used by private businesses and such to advertise.”

Chief Barlow was concerned that local harmony could be affected with the wrong response to the messages.

“I don’t want to see any racial tensions in the city,” he said. “With everything going on in this world, we don’t need that in our community. We haven’t had a racial issue and we don’t want to start one now.”

Harrington Police said they were contacted by residents about the fliers and were investigating, asking anyone with information to call 398-4493, ext. 21.

The drops in Seaford began around 7 p.m. Saturday when witnesses reportedly saw two white males drive by the Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal church on North Street and toss out a packaged flier, police said. Notified by area residents, The Rev. Tesha Miller reported the incident to authorities at 9:41 p.m.

On Sunday at 8 p.m., police were told that 11 packages with the same KKK flier were found in Seaford’s Virginia Commons neighborhood. On Monday morning, 14 more fliers were located in the Virginia Crest neighborhood, authorities said.

Over the same weekend, Cpl. Chambers said he saw published reports and spoke with police regarding similar incidents in Dover and Smyrna, along with Maryland towns Easton, Federalsburg, Princess Anne and Pocomoke City. Months ago, police in Anne Arundel and Montgomery County reported similar incidents, he said.

On Tuesday, Smyrna Police reported that five or less fliers were possibly distributed in the area.

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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