Community members echoed a message of love on Wednesday to counter the hate that they said seeped into North Charleston’s Dorchester Waylyn neighborhood when someone dispersed Ku Klux Klan fliers among residents.
Roughly 20 community members— a mixture of men, women and children— gathered at a park on Wye Lane to discuss their reactions to the situation and consider ways to move forward.
“If it happened in my neighborhood, it can happen in your neighborhood,” 28-year-old Cherri Delesline said addressing the attendees.
Delesline called for the meeting after finding one of the fliers tucked beneath her windshield wiper on July 1. She took it upon herself to create her own flier discouraging whoever passed out the fliers from returning.
“We say no to the KKK,” her flier said. “This community stands together against racism.”
Delesline asked the meeting’s attendees to post her flier in their windows. She later walked the streets of her neighborhood to further distribute the message among residents.
Pastor Thomas Dixon, a community activist, mirrored a similar sentiment while speaking to the group.
“If we know that these folks are coming in order to antagonize us into action or reaction, we should never give them that satisfaction,” Dixon said.
The Klan fliers invited people to contact the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the Klan’s many independent local groups, which is based in Park Hill, Mo.
“Neighborhood Watch. You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake,” that flier read. It and others can be downloaded from the group’s website.
“How much can you take,” North Charleston resident Willette Wilkins asked of Dixon during the discussion. “Someone coming into your neighborhood starting trouble, passing out hatred fliers. ... I feel they’re cowards. (Going around) late at night when people are sleeping. What are you trying to do?”
Dixon responded by referring to the situation as a chance for residents to rebuild unity in their own neighborhoods. He encouraged the group to report any sightings of suspicious people, to maintain contact with one another and to attend neighborhood meetings.
The Klan fliers appeared two weeks after a gunman opened fire, killing nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, including the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Authorities have described the mass killing as a racially motivated hate crime.
The massacre prompted lawmakers to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol Complex grounds.
The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which is headquartered in Pelham, N.C., plans to hold the rally Saturday in Columbia to protest the flag’s removal. Robert Jones, grand dragon for the group, told The Post and Courier last month that Roof was “heading in the right direction” but picked the wrong targets by focusing on a church.
“Unfortunately we’ve seen some really bad things happen recently. If we can build that unity, that neighborhood unity that we should have had all along, off of this then those who have suffered in this whole situation will not have died in vain,” Dixon said. “It will be an honor and a legacy to them for all future generations.”
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.