Hate group fliers spark upset

On Sunday morning, hate group fliers were randomly thrown in driveways throughout the center section of town.

On a recent Sunday morning, Andrea VanVreede was going home after dropping her daughter off at a friend’s house when she began to wonder why some of her neighbors had bags of corn in their driveways. When she arrived home, she saw one sitting in her driveway and was shocked to see the plastic bag of corn also contained a message from the Confederate Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

“I picked it up and read it, and my initial reaction was complete and utter anger. I was very angry and upset,” VanVreede said.

VanVreede called the police, who came to her home and confirmed others had received the flier as well. Moorestown Police Chief Lee Lieber said they were informed fliers were randomly thrown in driveways throughout the center section of town that morning.

Lieber said detectives are processing the evidence and treating this as a bias incident. He said the department has been in contact with the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and has broadcast the incident state-wide to see if there have been similar incidents in the area as they investigate the situation.

“We understand everyone has a right to free speech, but driving through neighborhoods and throwing these fliers on people’s lawns is cowardly,” Lieber said.

The message on the fliers read: “Proberbs (sic) 22:28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” The paper also included a phone number and email address to contact the Confederate Knights of the KKK.

VanVreede said she hopes the police can find out who is responsible. She said she’s hopeful Moorestown can use this as an opportunity to show others Moorestown is not a place that tolerates hate.

Crystal Charley, president of the Southern Burlington County NAACP, said the incident is a sobering reminder of the bigotry, division and intolerance that still exist.

“It is just a very sad time in our nation, and now as evidenced in our own backyard, that the persistence of racism is still rearing its ugly head in 2019. There is much work to be done for a more unified society,” Charley said.

Moorestown Mayor Lisa Petriello expressed similar disappointment, saying even though it is 2019, there is still a long way to go in stamping out intolerance in Moorestown and other communities.

“We’re an inclusive, kind community; I would just encourage all of us to remain united in promoting that kind of community,” Petriello said.

In an effort to counteract the hateful message promoted on the fliers, local civic group MooreUnity is organizing a Moore Greet & Eat series of potluck dinners to encourage people to meet other members of the community and broaden their friendships.

MooreUnity was formed partly in reaction to a 2017 incident when KKK fliers were distributed in the neighboring town of Cinnaminson. Karen Reiner, one of MooreUnity’s founders, said when she saw this had happened again, she wanted to find a way to counterbalance that kind of hateful thinking with action that is pleasant, loving and kind.

“Our organization’s mission is to build bridges across divides in our community,” Reiner said. “We do that by celebrating diversity and facilitating unity.”

Since putting the word out about the series on Facebook, Reiner has already been contacted by 10 people who have offered to host a potluck. She said they’re still in the planning stages, and they’re working on an online sign-up mechanism for hosts and guests.

“I really think the more we get to know our neighbors and our community members — especially if we get to meet people who are different than us, whether it be ethnicity or immigrants status — the closer we can get to one another,” Reiner said.

To get updates on the Moore Greet & Eat series, visit MooreUnity on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MooreUnity. Anyone with questions can contact MooreUnity at mooreunitynj@gmail.com.