Anniston-area law enforcement investigates Klan promotional flyers

"Big Zack" burned his flyer. (Photo: ABC 33/40)

Anniston police and the Calhoun County sheriff confirm they are investigating complaints from people who received promotional material from the United Klans of America.ABC 33/40 first reported on the flyers Sunday night.{} Anniston mayor Vaughn Stewart said several people in the Saks community filed reports with the Anniston Police Department."These actions are disappointing," Stewart said in a written statement provided to ABC 33/40."As the City of Anniston continues to move forward toward progression we are frequently reminded at times how much further we, together with our surrounding cities and communities, still have to go.{} This is one of those times."There was a small, clear plastic sandwich bag containing a flyer in both of the driveways to LT Thomas's house.{} The gravel roads on either side of the home also had the little bags, weighted with pebbles so a driver could toss them without worrying about them blowing away.Thomas said he saw one of the bags Sunday afternoon."I just thought it was trash, only because, people just throw stuff in my yard, because of where I live.{} I live close to a road and there's always stuff so I didn't pay attention really," he said.Much to his surprise, Thomas discovered Monday it was a "Neighborhood Watch" note from the United Klans of America, with a local 256 area code and website.{} An Internet search indicates the phone number is registered to Decatur.{} ABC 33/40 called the phone number on the flyer and left a message with the UKA, but have not heard back."I'm more in disbelief, for something like this to go on so close to where I live, and to know that people like this are still out there, it's kind of scary to a certain degree," Thomas said.The front of the flyers reads Neighborhood Watch -- You can sleep well tonight knowing the United Klans of America are awake.Thomas is African-American and he said the note makes him wonder if he should worry about members of the Klan watching his neighborhood."Am I going to be targeted because I live here?{} What if I come walking up the street one night walking from the store or something and I just walk up to my house, and one of them happens to ride by and they see me fidgeting for my keys because the light's not on," he said."As a neighborhood and a community, [the Klan] is who we need to be watching."Sheriff Larry Amerson said it is not criminal to promote an organization.{} However, since the Klan is an organization with a history of criminal activity, he wants to find out who the distributors of the notes are.Anniston police declined to discuss their investigation.{} A written statement to ABC 33/40 said "we have no comment on the flyers as it would give credence to an otherwise un-credible group."{}Another neighbor, a caucasian man who wanted to be identified only as Big Zack, said "I'm sure a lot of it is a ploy to get attention."He took a lighter and set one of the flyers on fire."Pretty much what I think about this," Big Zack said as the paper turned into ash."If you really had love for people you wouldn't send out propaganda like this.{} Racist propaganda at that."The back of the flyer has a lengthy message which talks about the importance of love instead of hate.{} LT Thomas said it made him shake his head to read a note from a hate group that said: "A heart is meant to love, not hate.{} If you hate something it takes up space in your heart that should be used to show love..."Calhoun County investigators said some people who live in the Coldwater area brought flyers to the sheriff's office to file complaints about the leaflets in their area.{} There were also reports of flyers in the Wellborn and Oxford areas.The ABC news affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky, said there was a{}similar distribution of flyers there this weekend as well.{} Communities in Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, and Connecticut also reported Klan flyers during the past few months.Mayor Stewart said the city of Anniston{}and its council will not allow anyone to derail the mission to improve quality of life."It just serves as a reminder that as far as we've come, we've got a long way to go," LT Thomas said.If anyone from the Saks community has any information about the distribution of flyers, or faces any other problems connected to them, contact the Anniston Police Department's investigative division at (256) 240-4000.
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