Yesterday as residents in the Monmouth County towns of Red Bank and nearby Fair Haven got ready to observe Martin Luther King Day, some of them woke to find messages from the Ku Klux Klan waiting on their front lawns. There were two flyers. One of them says Smash Communism! and details what it claims are sexual perversions of Dr. King. That one has a mugshot photo of King that, given the text, might suggest to younger people or to those who don’t know history that he was arrested for a sex-related crime. But it is, actually, his 1963 mugshot when was arrested for peaceful protest and jailed in Alabama. There, King wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail which defined the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism. The other missive has the flag of Mexico above an inverted American flag, with the words, “Hey Gringo! What will you do when this happens to you?”
Both photos here are from redbankgreen.com. They called the number on the flyers, and heard a recording calling King a “perverted Communist nigger”. According to their local reporting:
Rufus Johnson, who identified himself as a media spokesman for the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, confirmed Monday afternoon that the fliers were part of a nationwide campaign by the organization to call attention to what it believes is King’s unworthiness of honor. He said local distributors frequently use plastic bags weighted with stones or rice to keep them from blowing away. He declined to identify local representatives, but said the group has a chapter in New Jersey.
A local Monmouth-centered blog cites a 1923 gathering of KKK – in full regalia – at a Red Bank church nearly 100 years ago. But these days, Red Bank is a diverse community, with many residents that move to the area for that exact reason. I reached out to Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich, a friend, who said the level of hate in the country troubles him greatly. This isn’t the first time Red Bank has been hit by white supremacists throwing hate-baggies onto lawns. It happened last year in Red Bank, too, flyers in Ziplocs, with caramel candy, decrying the “accelerated browning of America”. And last Fall, just before the November election, the Bergen County town of Lyndhurst was littered with KKK flyers, packaged in plastic bags, weighed down with rocks and landing in the doorways and driveways of residents. Before that, December 2014 in Rutherford.
We live in a great country. Even as the KKKers advertise their filth, probably distributed late at night, thrown from cars speeding through New Jersey’s neighborhood’s so nobody can see them doing it, it’s all legal, though local police are investigating whether local ordinances were broken.
Stay strong, Red Bank and Fair Lawn. Rutherford. Lyndhurst. We see you. Those Kluxers? They don’t get you at all.