The Ku Klux Klan is allegedly trying to recruit Generation Z into its rans using propaganda and, of all things, the sweet enticement of candy.
According to Vice.com, Friday morning, children heading to school in an upstate New York community found Ziploc bags filled with Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyers and sweet treats at the end of their driveways.
New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo immediately ordered an investigation to determine who left the bags and if they have any potential ties to hate crimes.
“They come between 4 and 6 in the morning, so the candy bars and packets are at the end of the driveway when kids are getting on the school bus,” Westmoreland school board member Denise Szarek told CNN.
“The community they hit was a mobile home park so there were a lot of kids in the area, and they hit on some of the side roads, too.”
In a statement, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the dropped materials were, “”printed information about the United Northern & Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.”
That same day, in addition to ordering state police to investigate the materials, Gov. Cuomo also organized a town hall to discuss local concerns.
“New York has zero tolerance for intolerance,” Cuomo said in a statement, sent by his office.
I am directing the State Police to investigate this appalling distribution of KKK material in several counties. New York has zero tolerance for intolerance. https://t.co/yvIJOoDAJC
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 3, 2018
In a follow up statement, Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol stressed to residents that “the leaving of these flyers and soliciting people to join the KKK is their right.”
“I believe in unity and tolerance. The KKK is against all of those things,” Maciol said. “However, with that said, I have taken an oath to uphold the constitutional rights of all citizens, which, however repulsive, includes the KKK.”
While flyers soliciting community member to join the KKK are indeed protected as free speech, the sheriff pointed out that any solicitation toward unlawful acts – such as hate crimes – would still draw criminal charges.
New York State police plan to investigate the distribution of KKK materials in Oneida County along with a recent uptick in similar instances in other counties in the state as well. They are also plans to increase patrols in those targeted areas.
According to the governor’s office, the state police’s Hate Crimes Task Force will organize a town hall in Oneida County to discuss citizens’ rights and how to report hate crimes as part of a broader public awareness campaign.