The East Hampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force had harsh words on Monday after fliers advertising white supremacy groups were found around East Hampton in recent weeks.
“Those that have the time and inclination for spreading such nonsense would be better served by a close examination of what it means to create a free and prosperous community,” read a statement issued on behalf of the task force on Monday.
“Dividing a society is counterproductive. America was and is built on immigration,” it said. “We are grateful for the leaders of our community who rise above division.”
East Hampton Town Police and local officials have been receiving reports of fliers advertising the Ku Klux Klan and a white supremacist group named White New York being left at various spots in the last two weeks.
According to Town Police Captain Chris Anderson, police received a call on November 19 reporting a flier directing people to the website for White New York, which was left at the foot of a driveway to a residence on Cranberry Lane in Amagansett.
While Captain Anderson said there was nothing that could be done as far as an arrest, he did say that residents should contact local authorities if they are concerned about the content of messages they find. “We certainly like to keep our fingers on the pulse of what is going on in the community,” he said.
Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo stated in an email that the police had received another call about White New York fliers found in the driveways of residences in Montauk in the last two weeks, and a flier advertising the KKK was found on the seat of a Long Island Rail Road train in Amagansett on Monday, November 21.
“There are protections of free speech under the law that allow for this type of thing, no matter how distasteful or upsetting they may be,” Chief Sarlo said in an email. “The public has every right to report them, and we encourage them to report, as, hopefully, bringing awareness to how unwanted that type of literature is in our community, we can continue to discourage those that wish to spread intolerance.”
Two members of the town’s Anti-Bias Task Force, Larry Smith and Louise Bergerson, attended Monday night’s meeting of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee to make the community aware that the task force is available for residents with concerns. The task force had issued a statement in August to remind the community of its work at a time when “hate rhetoric … appeared to be on the rise nationally.”
In an interview after the meeting, Mr. Smith said that the task force is aware of instances of hateful rhetoric found not only locally but also on a national level. He went on to say that the task force and the Town Police have a strong working relationship and emphasized that any issue of bias or bigotry will not be ignored.
“What we want to do is prepare the community for a climate which is zero tolerance of bigotry and statements of bigotry,” Mr. Smith said.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said he had received email copies of both fliers and advised citizens to alert town police officers if they have concerns.
“There is no room in our community for the hate, violence, discrimination and prejudice represented by white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan or of any kind,” the supervisor said.