Resident Rita Strough says she wants to push for compassion and human dignity
Early last week, residents in Moorestown, Cinnaminson, Maple Shade and Mt. Laurel found flyers signed by the “Loyal White Knights” of the KKK. Both the Moorestown Police Department and the Cinnaminson Township Police Department received calls from residents in regards to the “hate literature.”
Cinnaminson resident Rita Strough was out for a morning walk when she saw something shining in the grass.
“I was shocked when I realized what I was holding,” Strough said. “I can’t tell you how sick in my stomach it made me feel to see that in our town. We’re such a wonderful community of really nice, integrated people.”
What Strough says looked like a Valentine turned out to be a solicitation to join the KKK complete with heart-lined messages such as “love your race” and “stop homosexuality and race-mixing.” The flyers also provided a website and phone number to reach the Klan.
Those who choose to reach out via phone will be greeted with a short recorded message that spews hate in light of Black History Month, as well as the option to leave a message for the Klan.
Strough has lived in Cinnaminson for more than 20 years and says Cinnaminson residents aren’t hateful.
“In this town people make eye contact, smile and wave to each other. There’s always a feeling like we’re one big family whenever the town hosts events like Cinnaminson Day and other community gatherings,” Strough said.
Strough decided she should report her findings to the police department, despite being unsure if what she found was actually illegal.
According to Moorestown Police Chief Lee R. Lieber, the flyers seemed to have been thrown out of a car window while the car was in motion. He explained how this seems increasingly likely, as the letters were found roughly a mile down the road in Maple Shade.
Cinnaminson Township Police Department Lieutenant Tim Young says the department is investigating the report as a bias incident.
“This is not what we’re about,” Young said. “This is not what our town is about.”
In a press release, the department said it will do “everything in their power to identify those responsible.”
“The police are investigating the incident,” the Cinnaminson Township Police Department posted on Facebook. “There is no place for hate or intolerance in Cinnaminson.”
Cinnaminson Mayor Anthony Minniti agreed.
“Cinnaminson Township has zero tolerance towards hatred and ignorance. Our residents historically have been inclusive and we will not let an ignorant individual or group divide who we are,” Minniti said. “I have total confidence in the Cinnaminson Police Department’s investigation.”
The Moorestown Police Department received an anonymous call from a resident reporting the findings. Another flyer was confirmed by police and located by a woman walking her dog on a sidewalk in the Lenola section of town.
“I echo what the Cinnaminson and Maple Shade police departments said in that there is no place or tolerance for this kind of hatred,” Lieber said. “We are working with these neighboring departments to identify the subjects who left the flyers, and we have notified the prosecutor’s office and state.”
Lieber added while a similar instance involving discriminatory flyers had occurred in Moorestown more than five years ago, due to the time lapse, he does not believe the two cases are linked.
“My opinion is that we need to rally for love, peace and harmony and recruit ‘boots on the ground’ for compassion and human dignity just as fiercely and forcefully as those who support bigotry and hate push for their causes,” Strough said.
The Loyal White Knights claim not to be a hate group, but specify they hate “drugs, homosexuality, abortion and race mixing.”
Just days after the flyers were found, an anonymous resident posted heart-shaped notes on Forklanding Road in Cinnaminson promoting an anti-KKK Valentine’s Day. The hearts were adorned with messages such as “love thy neighbor,” “hate ain’t great” and “all love is beautiful.”
Anyone with information should contact the Moorestown Police Department at (856) 235–1405 or the Cinnaminson Township Police Department at (856) 829–6666.