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'White pride' flyers found on Monument Circle

February 2, 2018 | IndyStar | Link to Article

On the first day of Black History Month, flyers apparently distributed by a Ku Klux Klan affiliate appeared on Monument Circle. 

The flyers, apparently attributed to the East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire, declare in all-caps that "white pride doesn't mean hate."

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the East Coast Knights as an active hate group

"There’s no place in Indianapolis for that type of rhetoric and for that type of hatred and for that type of misplaced allegiance," said the Rev. Juard Barnes, director of urban strategies and community organizer for the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network

He said his gut reaction upon hearing about the flyers was not of anger, but of remorse. He said he felt hurt for his grandchildren, for the young people who will see the flyers and for the children and grandchildren of the people who would disseminate those flyers. 

"For those who would have to eat at that table of hatred on a daily basis," he said. "That’s a terrible diet for our children to have to take in." 

The Marion County Young Democrats tweeted a photo showing the flyer folded in a plastic zipper bag with a rock apparently weighing it down. The group said the flyer was found near the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. 

"Watch out for each other and let’s prove that #IndyWelcomesAll by showing that a diverse and inclusive #Indy benefits us all," the group shared in a tweet Thursday.

An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police spokesman told IndyStar Thursday afternoon that he was not aware of any police reports regarding the flyers. 

On its official website, the East Coast Knights says it is an affiliate of the Klan, but claims it is not a hate group. 

"We do seek to ensure a safe and secure future for Caucasian Americans, for that we will not apologize," the group says on its website. "We also are painfully aware of the horrible and hateful acts carried out by a few individuals. We fully understand the history of our organization and the stigmas attached to it. We strive to cleanse the Klan name by our positive actions."

Messages left by IndyStar at the phone number listed on the flyer were not immediately returned. 

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The same flyers were circulated in Columbus, Ohio, on New Year's Day, the Columbus Dispatch reported

The group claims to have "realms" — or chapters — from Texas to Florida and from Indiana to Maryland, according to its website. However, it is not included in the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of seven Klan affiliates in Indiana. 

Of the 917 hate groups identified in the United States, 26 have a presence in Indiana, according to the SPLC. The organization defines a hate group as a group with "beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."

Indiana lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on a hate crimes bill earlier this week, leaving the state as one of only five in the country without such a law.

The Rev. Barnes said the fear and mistrust that has dominated the national conversation in the last two years have empowered hate groups to feel more "mainstream." 

"America is ... a freight train of diversity and liberty that’s coming," Barnes said. "And there’s a light that some people see coming at them, and they know it’s freedom, and it’s scaring them. It’s a lot of fear. So hurt people hurt."