Anti-KKK rally set for Spa City

Event tonight a re­sponse to fliers found over the week­end

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Joseph Phe­lan jphe­lan@dig­i­tal­first­

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » In re­sponse to KKK re­cruit­ment fliers found down­town over the week­end, Saratoga Peace Al­liance will con­duct a vigil Wed­nes­day night out­side of the U.S. Post Of­fice, at the cor­ner of Lake Av­enue and Broad­way, be­gin­ning at 5:30.

Linda LeTen­dre, the or­ga­nizer of the anti-KKK rally, en­cour­ages com­mu­nity res­i­dents to come to­gether to counter the mes­sage spread last week­end when fliers were handed on Broad­way as well as found on cars Sun­day morn­ing.

“We need to an­swer this. We need to come to­gether as a com­mu­nity and say this kind of hate and rhetoric just isn’t OK any­where. That’s not who this city is, and we need to stand with our brothers and sis­ters. The KKK tar­gets not only peo­ple of color,” said LeTen­dre. “They tar­get ho­mo­sex­u­als, they tar­get Jews, they tar­get Catholics. We need to stand to­gether and say this isn’t okay, and let our brothers and sis­ters know that we have their backs. We aren’t go­ing to be silent while the KKK is in town. We will counter their mes­sage.”

One of the fliers told peo­ple to “Love your own race” and to “Stop Ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity & Race mix­ing,” and en­cour­aged re­cip­i­ents to join the Ku Klux Klan. The flyer di­rected peo­ple to a phone num­ber and web­site.

A man named Chris Barker re­sponded to a mes­sage left on the pro­vided phone num­ber Tues­day, ex­plain­ing the fliers serve as a re­cruit­ment to gain mem­bers. Barker — who said he’s the im­pe­rial wizard of The Loyal White Knights of The Ku Klux Klan, head­quar­tered in North Carolina — said dif­fer­ent cities through­out New York state will see the fliers through­out Fe­bru­ary since it’s Black His­tory Month.

Barker said the group’s mis­sion is to unite white peo­ple.

“It’s not meant to in­ti­mate any­body. If you don’t like it, throw the stuff away,” said Barker. “We’re only af­ter a small per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion any­way and that’s mostly white Chris­tian Amer­ica.”

Ac­cord­ing to the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter — which says it tracks ex­trem­ist groups — “The Ku Klux Klan, with its long his­tory of vi­o­lence, is the most in­fa­mous — and old­est — of Amer­i­can hate groups. Although black Amer­i­cans have typ­i­cally been the Klan’s pri­mary tar­get, it also has at­tacked Jews, im­mi­grants, gays and les­bians and, un­til re­cently, Catholics.”

LeTen­dre is part of Saratoga Peace Al­liance, a com­mu­nity group that aims to fos­ter peace through di­a­logue and ac­tion.

LeTen­dre en­cour­ages any­body that’s been tar­geted to speak at the one-hour vigil Valen­tine’s Day “about how is it we as a com­mu­nity can sup­port them and help safe­guard them.”

The event’s called a “Cel­e­bra­tion of the Open Hearts” and will fea­ture mu­sic, singing, pray­ing — and plan­ning for what to do next.

“We want to be out there and vis­i­ble so that peo­ple know [Saratoga Springs] is not that kind of com­mu­nity,” she said. “And that the peo­ple tar­geted know that there are cit­i­zens that have their backs, that are will­ing to be out there.”

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