Anti-KKK rally set for Spa City
Event tonight a response to fliers found over the weekend
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.”