Ku Klux Klan pamphlets appeared Thursday night in Patchogue, a village rocked by a deadly hate crime eight years ago and divided more recently over a visit by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said several pamphlets were scattered on Baker Street, including outside Village Hall. A village employee found another on nearby Rider Avenue, he said.
A Facebook post by a woman who said she found several pamphlets showed a paper with the words “White Lives Do Matter” and contact information for the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, a group based in North Carolina.
The woman wrote that she found the pamphlets in plastic bags on Baker Street on Thursday night. She could not be reached Saturday.
The flier warned of “cultural genocide” and read in part: “If you yourself hate American history we would like to kindly ask you to get out of America!”
“It doesn’t surprise me, but I’ve never seen anything like it here before,” said Tex Dennerlein, who has lived on Baker Street since 2001 but did not receive a pamphlet.
“I just hope it’s an isolated incident,” he said. “I’d hate for this town to take another bruise.”
Suffolk County police said they received reports of the KKK fliers Thursday night into Friday morning and referred them to the department’s Hate Crimes Unit.
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said distributing the pamphlets was not a crime but police took reports for informational purposes.
Pontieri said he was sent a photograph Friday of a pickup truck parked at Lowe’s in East Patchogue with a handwritten sign that said “White Lives Do Matter!” and contact information for the Loyal White Knights.
“It’s disturbing,” Pontieri said Saturday. “As a community, we’ve gone through enough. A couple weeks ago, it was Donald Trump coming to town. Eight years ago, it was the Marcelo Lucero murder. We’ve worked really, really hard to integrate this very diverse community.”
KKK pamphlets have appeared sporadically in neighborhoods across Long Island over the past two years, including in Hampton Bays, Shirley, East Patchogue, Babylon, Wantagh and Rockville Centre.
Patchogue, which is 30 percent Latino and 5 percent black, has a large Ecuadorean population. Many people who live on Baker Street, a residential lane near Patchogue’s Long Island Rail Road station, are Latino.
In 2008, Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death by a gang of teenagers, a killing that put the village at the center of national discussions about immigration and led to a U.S. Department of Justice probe of the Suffolk police.
Trump’s appearance last month at a Suffolk GOP fundraiser at a Patchogue nightclub drew condemnation from immigrant advocates, who held a vigil a few hundred feet from where the candidate spoke, at the site where Lucero died.
Pontieri linked the pamphlets’ appearance to national rhetoric over immigration and Muslims.
“Maybe it comes from the rhetoric we hear continually from our almost-elected officials,” he said. “Whether it’s building walls or banning Muslims, it really gives people cover to do these kinds of things.”