2006-04-17 Herald-Sun: cross-fliers link

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Police eye link in flier, cross burnings

  • By Ray Gronberg : The Herald-Sun
  • gronbergspam@spamheraldsunspam.spamcom
  • Apr 17, 2006 : 10:47 pm ET

DURHAM -- Police are looking into whether the Easter-morning discovery that someone had scattered white-supremacist literature in several Durham neighborhoods is related to cross burnings and vandalism that occurred last year, City Manager Patrick Baker said.

In a report to the City Council on Monday, Baker added that the leaflets that appeared in Duke Park, Northgate Park, Old North Durham and other neighborhoods "appeared to be syndicated" rather than being the production of someone commenting specifically on allegations that white members of Duke University's lacrosse team had raped a black exotic dancer.

The "documents weren't specific to Durham, or the recent issues," Baker said.

Complaints about the leaflets reached the Durham Police Department early Sunday morning, and dominated neighborhood e-mail lists in the afternoon.

Police Sgt. Dale Gunter, who works with Partners Against Crime District 2, e-mailed activists Sunday to say that while the message of the leaflets is protected by the First Amendment's free-speech guarantees, authorities would check with lawyers on whether the distribution amounted to littering.

The leaflets frequently came rolled up in packets of 11, and expressed a variety of anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-Hispanic messages.

The presentation of the packet -- usually looking to homeowners like it was a missing-child bulletin -- and at least two of the fliers duplicated the particulars of a 2005 case in Annapolis, MD.

Authorities in Annapolis blamed the 2005 leaflet distribution on a neo-Nazi group called the National Alliance that the Anti-Defamation League once termed "the single most dangerous organized hate group in the United States."

Several of the leaflets picked up Sunday in Durham and last year in Annapolis referred to an organization called "Separatist Action." Authorities in Annapolis told a publication called Washington Jewish Week that Separatist Action is one of the aliases the National Alliance uses in its literature.

The National Alliance's founder and longtime leader was William Pierce, a former physics professor who authored a book called "The Turner Diaries" that's credited with inspiring Timothy McVeigh to blow up a federal office building in Oklahoma City, Okla., in 1995.

Pierce died of cancer in 2002, and the Anti-Defamation League says the National Alliance has since fallen on hard times. As of last year, its nationwide organization supposedly was barely functioning, although local units continued to operate.

Another organization that monitors hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center, says that as of 2004, the National Alliance had groups operating in six North Carolina communities, specifically Benson, Charlotte, Laurinburg, Raleigh, Siler City and Wilmington.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Web site, http://www.splcenter.org, reported that there was a 2003 leafleting incident in Wilmington that featured National Alliance literature.

A Partners Against Crime activist, Bill Anderson, noticed the similarity between the Durham and Annapolis cases after running Google searches on the wording of some of the fliers.

Anderson said he was angry that someone from another city may have come in and used the fliers "to paint Durham any worse than it gets painted" by the recent controversy involving the Duke lacrosse team.