KKK recruitment effort sparks complaints in Hampton Bays

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Hampton Bays residents have found Ku Klux Klan recruitment pamphlets tucked next to their mailboxes and in their driveways over the past month, Southampton police and town officials said Saturday.

Police have received four complaints from residents who've received the materials but have heard anecdotally of many more, Sgt. Todd Bennett said.

The most recent incident was Friday, when a Columbine Avenue resident reported finding a KKK pamphlet in his driveway, inside a plastic bag with some candy, Bennett said.

The first instance was July 25, when a Wakeman Road resident reported finding a pamphlet wedged between her mailbox and its flag. Other reports have come from Bay and Fanning avenues, officials said.

Hampton Bays, Southampton Town's most populous hamlet with 13,000 people, is 68 percent white and 29 percent Hispanic, according to the 2010 Census, and has seen its Hispanic population swell in recent years.

Some residents have complained to town officials about an influx of immigrants, though most objections have pertained to illegal apartments and increasing enrollment in local schools.

The KKK pamphlets include illustrations of racial and ethnic caricatures and warn recipients to "beware" people looking to steal their jobs, Bennett said.

Police have notified Suffolk County's hate crimes unit and will continue to document the incidents, though distributing the materials is not a crime, he said.

The pamphlets advertise the Loyal White Knights, a North Carolina-based KKK branch active across the nation, including New York State, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups.

Robert Jones, Grand Dragon of the Loyal White Knights, said in a phone interview Saturday that he wasn't aware of the recruiting effort but that Hampton Bays is home to one of his group's three New York chapters. He said a chapter, or klavern, must have at least 15 members.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"Everybody's fed up with immigration," Jones said. "That's why we have so many people from New York calling right now."

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, who sits on the town's Anti-Bias Task Force, said Jones' claim isn't credible. "It would surprise me if there was a real presence there," she said. "There's no question that there are tensions in the community that are at times fueled by people who see things along racial lines, but that is a minority."

The majority of people are good, salt-of-the-earth people."

You also may be interested in: