According to the Southern Poverty Law Center's map of active hate groups in the United States, there are eight separate organizations operating under the Ku Klux Klan banner in North Carolina. One of them dropped flyers in the Raleigh neighborhood of Oakwood on Sunday, as part of a seemingly coordinated literature campaign throughout the United States.
Oakwood resident Jesse Jones, a lawyer in Harnett County, says that his recording system caught a car stopping in the middle of the rainstorm. A man in a raincoat got out and threw bags filled with rocks and abjectly racist flyers—"Notice to All [N-word]: Any of You Black Apes Caught 'Making Eyes' at a White Girl Will Be Beaten," etc.—onto his and his neighbors' yards. The next morning, Jones says he found about ten on his property. He called the police.
"An RPD officer was on patrol about 10:15 yesterday morning when he was flagged down concerning KKK pamphlets that had been found in the 500 block of Oakwood Avenue," Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue said in a statement. "The pamphlets were collected as evidence and appropriate notifications were made within the department."
The flyers are attributed to the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which calls itself "the most active and biggest Klan in America." That group's leader, Chris Barker, told the AP recently that the Knights have about thirty-eight hundred members. (The Jewish Anti-Defamation League puts that number closer to two hundred.)
According to the group's website, the phone number listed on the flyer is its "national hotline"; it's registered in the Rockingham County town of Reidsville, about a half hour north of Greensboro. When we called the number Monday afternoon, it went to a full voice mail.
Jones tells the INDY that he wasn't sure if the drop was random or the KKK was targeting him specifically. Jones represents several people who say they were abused by Harnett County deputies and was featured in a News & Observer investigation on policing problems there. But media reports suggest the same flyers were also dropped in Fayetteville and Greensboro, so maybe that's a coincidence.
In fact, Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Greesnboro aren't the only places where these flyers have popped up in past week. First Coast News in Jacksonville, Florida, reported earlier this week that flyers listing the same organization and contact number showed up there over the weekend. And in both San Francisco and Mayfield, Kentucky, similar flyers have been found.
The KKK's renewed energy isn't altogether surprising. Recently, white supremacist organizations have expressed joy at the success of Donald Trump's political campaign, built as it is around deporting undocumented immigrants, restoring (code word alert!) "law and order," and tweeting out anti-Semitic memes. Former KKK leader David Duke has been a loud supporter of Trump since the primaries started; he said in May that Trump could be "our white knight, our advocate, our person."
The Trump campaign's thinly veiled racism has emboldened other racist politicians to come out of the shadows, too: in a Monday appearance on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes, U.S. Representative Steve King, R-Iowa, asked Esquire writer Charles P. Pierce, "Where did any other subgroup of people [besides white people] contribute more to civilization?"
This is where we are now, in Trump's America.
Jones says he doesn't remember anything like this happening in Raleigh since Jesse Helms, the late senator and noted racist, was active in politics. "When it happened, I just started crying," Jones says. "I couldn't believe it. This environment that we have, our leaders are just making it more divided. It's a mess, man."