KKK flyer left on the steps of a mostly black church in Mississippi

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HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) — A flyer in the name of the Ku Klux Klan was reportedly left on the steps of a mostly black church in rural Mississippi.

According to a community member’s Facebook post, the flyer supports “The Old Glory Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” and states that the group is “alive and growing” in 14 states, including Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. He was found May 29 on the steps of Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Hernando in DeSoto County, the post said.

The Old Glory Knights are a chapter of the Klan that emerged last year, Lydia Bates, senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told The Commercial Appeal. They’ve handed out flyers in the past, but flyer campaigns, Bates said, don’t always mean the group is active.

“Flying is such a low-cost, low-stakes way to get their messages out to intimidate people, to try to recruit people,” Bates said. “They say they’re growing in 14 states, it’s pretty unbelievable. The Klan has declined a lot in the last five to 10 years. They’re really losing a lot of members and not bringing in new recruits. It’s really self-expanding.

The KKK’s theft efforts have recently plummeted from over 40 incidents in 2020 to less than 30 in 2021.

Still, Bates said, flyers can be scary for communities. A big purpose of the flyers is to intimidate and make people think the Klan is bigger and stronger than it really is, she said.

“A hate group built on a 150+ year history of violence, you can’t dismiss it as if they’re just trying to look bigger than they are, because there’s violence in their words of inherent way,” she said.

Bates recommends that communities that have experienced theft incidents focus on the community and report to groups like his or the NAACP.

“In terms of community response, I recommend not necessarily directly challenging the group or the rhetoric in the flyer, but rather focusing on the strengths of the community, on the diversity of the community,” Bates said. “And encourage people to donate to grassroots local organizations that work to challenge and confront and build resilience against racism in their communities.”

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