A new tactic by the publicity-hungry American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has its leaders exulting as angry newspaper publishers fume.
In the last few months, Klan members have scooped up hundreds of copies of free newspapers, stuffed or wrapped them with Klan literature and tossed them onto people's lawns and doorstoops. The tactic has shocked unsuspecting readers, enraged publishers afraid of losing advertisers and readers, and delighted Klan bosses.
"We're just using our constitutional right to get our message out," Imperial Wizard Jeff Berry, based in Butler, Ind., told The Associated Press. "They can tell us to stop, but until they show us a law, we're not."
The Klan has used the technique in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and, most recently, California. Their pamphlets have vowed to "deport every African back to Africa where they belong" and promised to "solve the [expletive] problem by FORCE."
The legality of the Klan's new tactic is unclear. Pennsylvania officials have told some publishers that their only recourse is charging theft of services, based on the fact most of the newspapers sell advertisers the right to insert their fliers. In California, police are investigating to see if the pamphlets violated state hate crime laws.
At press time, no publishers had pressed charges against the Klan. But one, the owner of the Classified Gazette in northern California, offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for what the owner contends is the illegal use of his publication.