BLANCHESTER — Some Blanchester area residents found flyers from the Ku Klux Klan in their driveways on Thanksgiving.
The flyers, which depict a burning cross and two hooded men riding horses, call readers to join them “as we ride to a city near you” as well as to “take back America” and “your” honor, heritage and pride.
The flyer lists a Texas-based chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, the Original Knight Riders, as well as the Riders’ phone number and website.
Steve Ziegelmeyer, a Blanchester area resident, said one of those flyers was in his family member’s driveway on Fancy Street.
“If I was an African-American in a small town and I received this … it’s going to make me extremely concerned,” Ziegelmeyer said.
Messages left with the KKK hot line phone number on the flyers were not returned by press time.
“While the flyers may be offensive, they are protected speech under the First Amendment,” Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt wrote in an email. “I don’t know of any enforcement action that could be taken without running afoul of the U.S. Constitution.”
In response to an earlier flyer distribution this year, Clinton County Sheriff Ralph D. Fizer Jr. sounded a similar message to Reinbolt. In August, Fizer said KKK members are free to disseminate material like that, due to the First Amendment’s right to free speech, just as residents are free to throw them away.
Ziegelmeyer questioned whether placing those flyers on private property constituted solicitation and whether that solicitation could be regulated or cited.
“I would question the legality of it because I have ‘No soliciting’ signs on my property,” for example, he said, although his property wasn’t subject to the distribution.
He said the driveways the flyers were put in were private property and not a public area subject to solicitation.
“It’s not a public area. Private property owners have rights too,” Ziegelmeyer said.
“I think with a group like the KKK, it would be in everybody’s best interest to monitor and limit their power here because it’s a group with a long history of” terrorism-like acts and radicalism, he also said.
The Riders distributed the flyers in bags weighed down by rocks.
Disseminating material through a mailbox is controlled by the United States Postal Service. Materials without postage are illegal to stick in, or on, a mailbox, according to section 3.2 of a USPS manual.
The rocks are thought to prevent littering, for which the Riders could be cited.
Of the flyer itself, Ziegelmeyer said it was written carefully and lawyer-like, without mentioning any specific KKK views.
Ziegelmeyer said the Klan is an organization that opposes anyone who isn’t white and protestant. The Riders’ website include references to white, Christian people as well as references to “mixing” races and people who are Jewish, gay or Muslim. The website also says the Riders are not a hate group.
“Imagine if the KKK guys could just hand that stuff to you in person,” where they could see into your house, Ziegelmeyer said. “There’s a reason why private property laws are stronger than your First Amendment laws in a lot of ways.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.