Declining in Stature and Influence, Ku Klux Klan Groups Flood Neighborhoods with Racist Fliers to Grab Attention

New York, NY, November 11, 2014 … Ku Klux Klan groups, once the most significant type of hate group in America, known for their distinctive white hoods and cross burnings, are camouflaging a declining stature and membership through a campaign of leafleting neighborhoods with racist fliers in order to draw attention and publicity.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors the activities of hate groups and other extremists, today reported that Klan groups have significantly increased leafleting activities in 2014.  So far this year, ADL has counted more than 70 incidents where racist fliers were left on doorsteps in neighborhoods by Klan members, a marked increase from 2013, which saw just 26 incidents of Klan literature distribution.

ADL has posted on its web site a list of known Klan flier distributions in 2013 and 2014 as well as a report highlighting the trends.

“Fliers are a tried and true tactic for Klan groups to get attention while masking the fact that they are suffering from a dwindling membership and decreased clout,” said Mark Pitcavage, ADL Director of Investigative Research. “The resultant outrage and media attention is what they crave, because it leaves the impression that they are strong and growing.”

The recent flood of racist leafleting has led to public speculation of a resurgent Klan. However, of the 35 different Klan groups still active around the country, most are very small in size and are unable to engage in large-scale activities.

Klan gatherings and other events have significantly diminished over the past few decades, as has the Klan’s standing among other white supremacists.  Competing movements from racist skinheads to white supremacist prison gangs have been much more effective in gaining recruits in recent years.

According to ADL, so far in 2014, 25 states have seen at least one confirmed incident of Klan fliers, with Pennsylvania and Indiana at the forefront with six occurrences each.  Following closely behind with five events each were Kentucky, Virginia and Texas.  Ohio counted four, while Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina had three.  The remaining states, including Florida, South Dakota, California, Delaware, Idaho, New York and Montana, each experienced one or two incidents.

Two Klan groups in particular were responsible for the majority of the incidents.  The North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the KKK and the Missouri-based Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK claimed responsibility for about 80 percent of the total 70 incidents in 2014.

The incidents follow a similar pattern, as exemplified by a recent event in Prattville, Alabama, where residents awoke a few days before Halloween to find their front doors and yards covered with racist fliers in plastic bags weighted down with rocks.  The flier’s recruitment message: “We are dedicated to preserving our race, our heritage and our American way of life.”

“A solitary Klan member can easily distribute fliers in a neighborhood, single-handedly generating publicity and stoking fear,” said Mr. Pitcavage. “But for all the anxiety it generates, Klan fliering today is a tactic of weakness, not strength.”