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National

Little Baggies Of Bigotry Broadcast A Hateful Message — Paired With Candy

In the week since the Charleston church shooting, fliers advocating for the Ku Klux Klan, paired with candy and bigoted screeds, have turned up on lawns throughout the U.S., including this one in Rockdale County, Ga.
In the week since the Charleston church shooting, fliers advocating for the Ku Klux Klan, paired with candy and bigoted screeds, have turned up on lawns throughout the U.S., including this one in Rockdale County, Ga.

There has been an outpouring of grief and sympathy since the shootings in Charleston, S.C., and calls for Americans to examine our minds and hearts.

But this week, in several spots around the country, little bags of candy have been left with harsh and hateful messages.

In Orange County, Calif., Tuscaloosa County, Ala., Rockdale County, Ga., and several other places — including, reportedly, Texas and New York state — someone, some group or groups of people, have left Ku Klux Klan fliers folded into small plastic baggies with candy.

Apparently the Klan has been on a recruiting drive this year, and the bags have been spotted in various places since January.

The Los Angeles Times says that the fliers seem to be what you would expect of people who say they're in the Ku Klux Klan: shakily constructed diatribes about African-Americans, Hispanics, gays and Jews.

Sgt. Kathryn Hamel of the Fullerton, Calif., police describes the fliers as "hodgepodge-looking," and "of very poor quality," and says they abound with misspelled words.

But the candy seems to be a new kind of appeal. Tootsie Roll pops have been put in the plastic bags in Southern California, and peppermints in Alabama.

"Why would they put a piece of peppermint candy in here?" a man in Alabama named Charley Buckland asked Channel 13 in Houston. "There's no sweetness involved in this group."

Local police say that the fliers are not a crime, perhaps not even littering.

"But it's something we're concerned about and tracking," says Sgt. Hamel.

It is chilling to see an innocent item of childhood twinkling in a plastic wrap in a bag alongside hateful, racist screeds, especially after we've seen hatred strike down the nine fine people in Charleston who are remembered this weekend.

Do the Ku Kluxers, or simple clucks, who've packed candy and bigotry together, think they'll entice children? Do they believe hatred can be sugarcoated? Do they think they can hide it behind a peppermint candy? Or does placing candy in those bags just reveal them as the kind of people who would poison a child's heart with hate?

Those fliers in the bags might remind us why children shouldn't take candy from strangers.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.