Sam Sanborn remembers protesting war and flashing peace signs back when she was young, she said.

“And now, apparently, we have to do it all over again,” she said.

Sanborn, 69, of Canaan, was one of about 20 people who rallied at the Margaret Chase Smith Bridges in Skowhegan at noon on Saturday in response to Ku Klux Klan fliers recently found in central and southern Maine.

“This is a community response to the Klan trying to recruit in our state,” said Rob, who organized the rally with his wife, Bria, and would not give his last name for fear of reprisal from the Klan or its supporters. “They’re not welcome here.”

In late January, residents of the Sand Hill neighborhood in Augusta awoke to find KKK fliers in their driveways purporting to be for a “neighborhood watch.” The Augusta fliers were headlined “Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” with a drawing of a hooded figure in a Klan robe flanked by “KKK” with its letters in flames on either side. It describes itself as “a movement of white people for the highest standards of western, Christian civilization.”

Freeport residents also reported finding what appear to be the same fliers near their homes, and at least one flier was reportedly found in a mailbox in Gardiner.

Michael Moore, of Veazie, who attended the rally in Skowhegan, said he was shocked by the fliers.

“I can’t believe people are passing out KKK literature in this day and age,” Moore, 73, said. He went to the March on Washington in 1963 and can’t believe that he’s still protesting the same things, he said.

Nearly everyone in the group had brought a sign, which included lines like “Destroy Fascism,” “No hate in this state” and “Love thy neighbor,” to hold up on the bitter, foggy day. While passengers in one car at the beginning of the rally flipped off the group, dozens of others beeped in solidarity. One man in a pickup truck stopped to ask what the rally was about, giving a thumbs up when they said they were protesting the Ku Klux Klan.

“I see much more acceptance of overt racism in public display all over the country,” said Mark Roman, 69, of Solon, who attended the rally. “I think it’s very dangerous.”

Roman has been attending rallies against war and militarization on the bridge every Sunday for the past eight years, he said, and there is a connection between that and racism.

“This is the kind of thing right here that starts or makes war acceptable to a lot of people — racism,” he said.

A February Portland Press Herald article details the history of the Klan in Maine. In the 1920s, membership reached 40,000 and while the Klan targeted small groups of minority communities in the state, it also focused on the large numbers of Irish Catholics and French-Canadian immigrants. The Klan helped to restructure Portland city government and elect Republican Gov. Ralph Brewster.

While the number of Klan members dwindled to a couple hundred by 1930, Maine saw small Klan rallies in 1987 and 1988.

“The state has a long history of resisting the KKK,” Rob said.

The January fliers prompted a forum earlier this month attended by more than 100 at the University of Maine at Augusta. The forum was hosted by Maeghan Maloney, the district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, and aimed to send a signal that Maine is a welcoming place to people of all backgrounds.

The event’s tone was inclusive, and a number of speakers addressed racism, anti-Semitism and other types of prejudice they’ve experienced or encountered. A number of speakers at the Augusta forum also linked the discrimination that seems to have flared in recent months in response to the rhetoric of President Donald Trump, who has proposed a ban on immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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