While many marked Martin Luther King Day this week with speeches, marches and public gatherings, at least one person decided it would be a good time to recruit new members to the Ku Klux Klan.
About two dozen fliers were tossed in Covington driveways sometime late Sunday or early Monday and were discovered by residents when they went outside.
“There it was in my driveway,” said O’Neil De Noux, who lives on Van Buren Street in Covington. The flier was in a small plastic bag with a bit of sand in it to give it some weight, he said.
The flier, which includes a drawing of King, wishes the slain civil rights leader a happy birthday, then below it reads: “We also have a dream.”
“The Blacks have NAACP, The Black Panthers, and Black Lives Matter. The Mexicans have La-Raza, the Jews have JDL,” the flier says. White people, it adds, have only the KKK.
The flier gives a phone number and a website for a group called the Loyal White Knights of the KKK.
When called, the number goes to an automated message that begins, “Hey, whitey,” and delivers a racist diatribe directed at King. It concludes by stating that Jan. 18 is Robert E. Lee Day, too.
The Loyal White Knights, according to Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, are based in Eden, North Carolina. He said they specialize in literature drops like the one in Covington on Monday and a similar one near Mandeville in August.
But Potok cautioned that the fliers can be downloaded from the group’s website, so it’s often impossible to tell if they are being distributed by a member of the group or some other person.
Klan groups have seen an uptick in membership and activity after a mass shooting last summer, which killed nine African-Americans inside a historic South Carolina church, set off a national movement to scrub public spaces of monuments related to the Confederacy, including four in New Orleans.
But “they are not getting thousands of new members,” Potok said. “The Klan isn’t much anymore.”
Both the Covington Police Department and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office are investigating the flier distribution. The FBI also has been notified, according to Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz.
But there may be little they can do, Potok said.
“Every now and then you will see local authorities trying to arrest Klan members for littering, but that has never really stuck,” he said.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.