The Ku Klux Klan - once the foremost hate group in America, known distinctly for their white hoods and cross burnings - have stepped up a leafletting campaign distributing racist fliers throughout neighborhoods in the United States
It is a maneuver that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is calling an attempt to camouflage their declining stature and membership by drawing attention and publicity.
The ADL, which monitors hate groups' activities, reported that Klan branches have significantly broadened their hateful leafleting campaign in 2014. There have been 70 incidents so far this year, a marked increase from 2013's 26 incidents of literature distribution.
The pattern of the KKK's distribution seems to be covering residents' front doors and yards with racist fliers in plastic bags weighted down by rocks, in the middle of the night. Residents then awake to these fliers with the recruitment message: “We are dedicated to preserving our race, our heritage and our American way of life.”
According to the ADL, 25 states have seen at least one confirmed incident of Klan fliers in 2014, with Pennsylvania and Indiana at the forefront with six occurrences each. Following closely behind with five events each were Kentucky, Virginia and Texas. Ohio counted four, while Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina had three. The remaining states each experienced one or two incidents.
A full report of the incidents and trends can be found on the ADL's website.
Two KKK factions in particular were responsible for the majority of the incidents. The North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the KKK and the Missouri-based Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK claimed responsibility for about 80 percent of the leafletting incidents.
“Fliers are a tried and true tactic for Klan groups to get attention while masking the fact that they are suffering from a dwindling membership and decreased clout,” said Mark Pitcavage, ADL Director of Investigative Research. “The resultant outrage and media attention is what they crave, because it leaves the impression that they are strong and growing.”
While the recent flood of leaflets has led to renewed public speculation of a Klan resurgence, the 35 different Klan groups still active around the country are mostly very small in size and are unable to engage in large-scale activities.
Indeed, Klan gatherings and events have been poorly attended in recent decades, and the Klan's standing among other white supremacists has dwindled. Competing movements, such as racist skinheads and white supremacist prison gangs, have been much more effective in their recruitment in recent years.
“A solitary Klan member can easily distribute fliers in a neighborhood, single-handedly generating publicity and stoking fear,” said Pitcavage. “But for all the anxiety it generates, Klan fliering today is a tactic of weakness, not strength.”