KKK recruitment fliers targeting Martin Luther King Jr. have been distributed in a Virginia neighborhood ahead of Monday’s public holiday honoring the civil rights leader’s legacy.
Local police and the FBI have launched an investigation after the leaflets were found in a neighborhood in Leesburg, west of Washington D.C., over the weekend.
Resident Bishop Shawn Stephens told NBC’s News4 he was in his drive Friday night when a woman threw a bag from the window of a car containing the leaflets.
"How can this be in 2018? How can this really be our reality at this stage of life? This is America, the land of the free," Stephens said.
"I believe [Martin Luther King Jr.] would be heartbroken," he told the outlet. "He was impactful for every group out there. He fought for them. And he was a fair gentleman. And he was a gentleman that loved all people."
Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said are working with the Leesburg and Purcellville police departments, as well as with the FBI, to determine the origin of the fliers, reported Washington ABC affliate WJLA.
Police said that they believe the fliers were posted because of the close proximity of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and specific residents were not targeted.
Reporter Amy Aubert from ABC7 posted a screengrab of on Twitter showing some of the anti-Luther King Jr. messaging:
Most popular: We Need a Different Kind of Martin Luther King Day
KKK propaganda has been distributed in the town before, with residents receiving bags of candy and fliers warning of “white extinction” last Halloween.
The FBI has recorded a sharp uptick in hate crimes in the last two years, with the figure up by 5 percent in 2016, according to the latest figures from the agency released last November.
Civil rights nonprofit the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 Klan members, split among dozens of different—and often rival—organizations that use the Klan name.
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