KKK To New York Kids: Come On Over, We Have Candy

Written by Dana Sanchez

 

The Klu Klux Klan may be taking recruitment tips from “Star Wars,” trying to lure New York State residents — specifically high school students — with goodie bags stuffed with candy and fliers promoting racist propaganda, CNN reported.

The recruitment campaign in upstate New York in recent months seems aimed at young people, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that he has ordered an investigation into whether the propaganda could be promoting hate crimes.

The fliers were distributed in Oneida and other counties near Utica and Syracuse, in the middle of the state, according to the governor’s office.

“While President Trump and Republicans in Washington sow divisiveness and hate that is spreading like a cancer across the country, in New York we say not here, not now, not ever,” Cuomo said in a press release.

The KKK wouldn’t be the first to lure children with candy. It’s a classic bait that has become an online meme.

The phrase “Come to the Dark Side” (often followed by “we have cookies”) is popular on the Internet. “When used online, it is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek catchphrase that supposedly attempts to persuade a person into being an antagonist,” according to KnowYourMeme.com. “‘The dark side’ is coined in ‘Star Wars’.”

When the KKK tried it in New York, it shocked and infuriated residents, CNN reported. Cuomo has asked the New York police Hate Crimes Task Force to kick off a “public awareness campaign” to counter hate.

“New York has zero tolerance for intolerance,” Cuomo said.

The KKK action has united residents in the town of Westmoreland, who met to denounce the group.

“The KKK is a terrorist organization, and even dropping off these materials itself is terrifying, especially when you find something like this in your driveway in the morning,” said Ron Klopfanstein, a teacher, journalist and president of the local historical society, in a CNN interview. “It requires a response, and the only way to get through that fear is to stand up and come together. I think the worst part is that a lot of kids found it on the way to the bus in the morning.”

The KKK drops off the recruitment bags between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. so they’re at the end of the driveway when children are getting on the school bus, said Denise Szarek, a member of the Westmoreland Board of Education. “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. Our feeling was that the children (were) being targeted — at least the high school and middle school kids in that age group.”

The city of Rome has been hit too.

Rome Sheriff Rob Maciol wrote in a prepared statement last week that, while he considers the KKK to be “an organization that encourages hatred and bigotry,” it is not against the law to leave fliers, Vice reported.

This isn’t the first time the KKK has tried to sweeten its racist messages with free stuff. The hate group used the same candy tactic in South Carolina and Virginia in the past, and once tried to encourage people to come to a Klan rally by giving away free kitty litter, Vice reported.

 

 

 

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Image Attribution: IMAGE: ANITA SANIKOP Darrell Flinn, a member of the Knights of the White Kamellia, speaks during a Ku Klux Klan rally Saturday, June 27, 1998, in Jasper, Texas. The KKK held a rally to denounce the dragging death of James Byrd Jr., who was beaten and fatally dragged behind a pickup truck down a rural road. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)