Ku Klux Klan spreads flyers and candy in upstate New York in an apparent attempt to recruit children

The Ku Klux Klan, in an attempt to possibly recruit young people, has begun to distribute plastic bags with white supremacist propaganda and candy bars in Rome, N.Y., according to CNN.

The Ziploc bags were dropped off at the end of driveways in Westmoreland, Rome, and other towns around Oneida County in the early morning, around the time schoolchildren would be waiting for their buses to arrive. 

Bags containing candy and a flyer promoting the Ku Klux Klan was found in the early morning at the end of driveways in Rome, N.Y. (Photo: Oneida County Sheriff’s Office)

“They come between 4 and 6 in the morning so the candy bars and packets are at the end of the driveway when kids are getting on the school bus,” Denise Szarek of the Westmoreland Board of Education told CNN. “The community they hit was a mobile home park, so there were a lot of kids in the area, and they hit on some of the side roads too. Our feeling was that the children [were] being targeted — at least the high-school and middle-school kids in that age group.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release, “While President Trump and Republicans in Washington sow divisiveness and hate that is spreading like a cancer across the country, in New York we say not here, not now, not ever,” adding, “New York has zero tolerance for intolerance.”

“My theory is that it’s someone local who’s downloading them, printing them out and passing it around,” Szarek said. “I mean, it really could be anyone. But I think we’re naive if we think that KKK members aren’t here, aren’t present in our communities.”

Mayor Jacqueline Izzo also issued a statement that was posted on the city of Rome’s Facebook page, saying, in part: “We are sending a clear message that the City of Rome will not tolerate this type of activity, and at no time should our citizens not feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods.”

While the post had some people thanking the mayor for releasing a statement, other users had quite a different point of view.

In response to the website that was included in the KKK’s flyer, which read, “We are an active world-wide organization striving to protect and preserve White Christian heritage and culture. If you want to play an active part in the preservation of the White race you may submit an application. For God, Race and Nation!” One commenter wrote, “So we can’t preserve our race and culture? But every other race can.” Others commented that whoever was behind the flyers was not committing a crime.

The office of Gov. Cuomo is urging any New York resident who has experienced bias or discrimination and wants to file a complaint to call the Division of Human Rights toll-free hotline at (888) 392-3644 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, or text “HATE” to 81336.

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