A Hallowell resident said she was shocked Monday morning when she discovered a piece of Ku Klux Klan literature on her vehicle.
Sarah Bigney, who is the membership engagement and communications coordinator for the Maine AFL-CIO, said her car was parked in the driveway of her apartment on a quiet, dead-end street. The business card was on her windshield.
“It’s disturbing to know there’s somebody creeping around in the middle of the night trying to spread this propaganda,” Bigney said. “There’s no place for the KKK in our community.”
Fliers highlighting the same Missouri-based group were found in driveways and on building porches on several streets of an Augusta neighborhood in late January, as well as in Gardiner and Freeport. Those fliers had a drawing of a hooded figure in a Klan robe flanked by “KKK,” with its letters in flames, on either side.
The KKK is a secret society organized in the South after the Civil War to assert white supremacy, and it has a history of violence against blacks, immigrants, Jews and other groups. The group’s “Imperial Wizard,” Frank Ancona, was killed last month, and his wife and stepson have been charged with first degree murder in connection with Ancona’s death.
After the fliers were found in Augusta, Gardiner and Freeport, a spokesman for the Maine Attorney General’s office said while the KKK’s message is abhorrent, the fliers alone don’t violate Maine’s Civil Rights Act.
The card reported in Hallowell is headlined “Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” with “America is a Christian Country” written in smaller letters underneath. The bottom of the documents reads “Fighting today for your future tomorrow,” and there is a 1-800 number, a website and a P.O. box in Park Hills, Missouri, the purported headquarters of the Traditionalist American Knights group.
Bigney said she believes her vehicle was targeted because of its “Black Lives Matter” bumper sticker. She said she checked with neighbors to see if anybody else had anything on their vehicles, but she was the only one.
Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason said Monday afternoon nobody else reported any KKK-related materials on other vehicles around the city, and a lieutenant from the Augusta Police Department said no reports of KKK fliers in Augusta have been made.
Bigney said the response from her friends and neighbors has been great.
“They’ve been really supportive,” she said. “(These fliers) are meant to be intimidating, but we need to be loud and clear that everybody is welcome in our community.”
Hallowell’s city council passed a resolution last month declaring it a “welcoming city,” and several elected officials from the city and state attended a rally at a new Iraqi-owned grocery store on Water Street in January. State Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, introduced the resolution and said in a statement Monday that she’s obviously concerned whenever the KKK makes its presence known.
“But it’s clear they do not speak for Hallowell,” the statement said. “Communities across Maine, including Hallowell, have come together over the last few months to reaffirm our values including creating a safe and welcoming place for every Mainer and firmly rejecting hate.”
When Bigney discovered the card Monday morning, she said she thought of how it would feel to be a new Mainer, an immigrant or a person of color. “I was really in shock.”
She said she’s lived in the apartment for many years and has never had any problem with damage or tampering with her car, and she hasn’t heard of anyone else in the neighborhood having any issues.
The “Black Lives Matter” bumper sticker is attached to the rear bumper to the right of the license plate, and she has a “Solidarity” bumper sticker to the left of the license plate.
“I think there’s certain elected officials who are making this talk OK,” she said. “It’s important to talk about this and say that it’s not OK.”
Jason Pafundi — 621-5663