DeKalb Police investigating racist flyers littering the communityIllustration: A DeKalb County Police vehicle. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons
The first flyers showed up at a town home community in Tucker, near the high school.
A resident discovered them Friday evening, Oct. 26.
In a plastic bag, weighted down to keep it from flying away, was a recruitment poster for the KKK. This flyer said, “Help us fight the spread of Islam in our country” and featured an image of a pointing Klansman. It included a phone number and a website address.
DeKalb County Police collected three flyers from the town homes. Then, on Oct. 28, police found flyers in the 1800 block of Mason Mill Road and Henderson Park in Tucker. According to a witness, flyers at Henderson Park were stuffed inside books that were inside the free library kiosk.
To see the flyer, click here.
The police department says it is investigating to determine if any criminal charges to be filed.
Shelley Rose, Deputy Regional Director with the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights hate and anti-antisemitism, said it’s unlikely the flyers will lead to criminal charges.
“They usually go into a neighborhood, throw these out into a bunch of yards,” she said. “The means of doing it are typical. There’re usually some rocks in it to keep it from blowing away. That’s not against the law, if they’re not putting it in a mailbox. It’s a free speech issue.”
Rose said the group hasn’t noticed an uptick in these kinds of flyers going out, saying these tactics have been common among white supremacist groups for years.
“I’ve been working for ADL for 20 years,” she said. “We’ve been seeing these flyers for a long time.”
What the group has noticed is white supremacists who are newly-emboldened since the election of President Trump. She pointed to the Unite the Right Rally in 2017 that resulted in the death of a counter-protester, and a shooting at a synagogue that occurred on Saturday in Pittsburgh that took the lives of 11 people.
According to the Washington Post, some Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh have asked Trump not to visit and are calling on the president to “fully denounce” white nationalism.
“When all of this kind of rhetoric goes on, it emboldens people to take action like we saw on Saturday,” Rose said. “You can’t just say things and think it’s going to stop at that. If it’s not challenged at that level, then it’s going to escalate.”
Rose said ADL provides resources for how communities can fight back against this kind of racist behavior without emboldening the racists who do it.
ADL’s “Responding to Hate” information guide encourages people who witness these incidents to contact police.
“If you believe that you are a victim of an in-person hate incident or otherwise believe that bias-motivated or hateful conduct is endangering your safety, immediately report the incident or conduct to law enforcement,” ADL says. “You have the right to make a report about a hate incident or bias-motivated conduct to law enforcement. Because hate incidents are not criminal in nature, the police cannot investigate the incident or conduct as a crime. Such reports, however, have value to law enforcement.”
“The police can play an important community role in helping de-escalate hateful conduct and thereby prevent bias-motivated criminal acts. Furthermore, should the perpetrator of a hate incident subsequently commit a hate crime, the report could be important evidence in prosecuting the crime. Multiple police reports of hate incidents involving the same perpetrator and victim also can be evidence for showing a violation of criminal harassment or stalking laws.”
Rose said people can also attend a vigil to show solidarity with the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. For a list of vigils and memorial services happening in Atlanta this week, click here.
“There are lots of vigils going on and folks coming together in a show of support and solidarity, so that’s really important,” she said.
Tucker Mayor Frank Auman said the city has been working with law enforcement to identify the persons responsible for the flyers.
“The type of message included in these flyers is in direct contrast to the values we hold at the core of our Tucker community,” he said. “Ours is a city full of loving and kind-hearted people from all different backgrounds. We say that Tucker is a place where people are welcome to live, work, play and pray. We mean that. Tucker’s residents will not be subjected to this kind of small-minded and hateful messaging. Our city leadership and our partners with the DeKalb County Police will make sure of it.”