Residents in West Ashley neighborhoods of Springfield, Marsh Cove and Debbenshire Drive woke up Friday morning to find literature from the Ku Klux Klan left on their lawns and driveways.
Fliers touting a KKK “neighborhood watch” were left in baggies that were weighed down with rocks. Residents said they were offended and disturbed by the literature.
“This is crazy,” said one black resident, who would not give her name. “This is very racially mixed area. It’s terrible to wake up and find something like this.”
The fliers were from the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. They have been seen recently in other tri-county cities. They showed up this spring in West Ashley’s racially diverse Pierpont neighborhood, and last week in the nearby Forest Lakes neighborhood.
Charleston County deputies have collected numerous pieces of the literature as evidence, and they encouraged residents who discover the literature on or around their property to discard it. But it’s unclear what authorities can do to prevent the flier drops.
“While some may not agree with it or be offended by it, there is nothing illegal about it at this time,” sheriff’s Maj. Jim Brady said.
Communities nationwide have cracked down on flier distribution through litter ordinances. But a federal judge in Missouri recently sided with the KKK’s free-speech argument and granted a temporary move to prevent the city of Cape Girardeau from enforcing a ban on leaving fliers on unoccupied vehicles.
The faction’s literature features a website address, where such fliers are available for download, and a phone number for a 24-hour “Klanline.” “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!” the flier reads.
KKK national director Thomas Arthur Robb has said the group’s members frequently take the initiative to recruit. He noted that distributing literature is not only legal but also constitutionally protected.