Sheriff’s officials in Newton County, outside Atlanta, picked up more than 30 KKK recruitment fliers on Monday, said Jeff Alexander, a sheriff’s investigator and spokesman. Monday was the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Authorities collected four versions of the flier, all of them depicting a Klansman in a hooded robe. “Help Save Our Race,” one reads.
A local newspaper, The Rockdale Citizen, reported that the fliers were left in plastic sandwich bags and weighed down by rocks.
Alexander told NBC News that the fliers appeared to be from a group in North Carolina, and that there was no known active KKK division in Newton County.
A call to the phone number on the flier from NBC News was not immediately returned.
Alexander described the subdivision as racially diverse and similar to others in the county.
He said sheriff’s officials had determined that there was no threat in the fliers and that no laws had been broken.
“We collected the fliers,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they won’t be distributed again.”
Local news reports in recent months have said that similar fliers turned up in neighborhoods in Virginia and Tennessee, and Alexander said there were reports of other fliers being left in neighborhoods along the East Coast on Monday.
Similar flyers have turned up in other states in recent months as well, local reports said.
Beyond the KKK banners, behind the white supremacy flag, is a controversial "pastors conference," held in rural Alabama open only to "white Christians," upsetting both neighbors and local officials. WVTM's Kalisha Whitman reports.
By Kari Huus, NBC News
A three-day whites-only religious conference — which will conclude with a flaming cross — in Lamar County, Alabama, has some residents upset at the racist implications while the minister complains that his freedom of speech is being violated.
"Yes, we believe that the Europeans and their descendants are the chosen people of God," according to the website for Christian Identity Ministries, which is holding the event with Church of God’s Chosen. "We believe this, not because we think that the white race is superior, but because there is overwhelming proof in support of this belief. We do not back down from this belief, because we are certain."
Some local residents learned of the July 4-6 gathering after the group posted fliers promoting their fourth annual pastors conference, announcing "All White Christians Invited," according to a report by WBRC in Birmingham.
"It was put up throughout the town in the middle of the night. (It was) when everyone was asleep without the permission of the business owner," said Tyler Cantrell, manager of Norris Music in nearby Winfield, Ala., the report said.
According to the flier, the three-day conference, being held in a rural area, will end with a "Sacred Christian Cross Lighting Ceremony."
"Business people are upset. The city is upset,” Winfield Mayor Wayne Silas told the TV station. "The city of Winfield does not condone this."
Christian Identity Ministries founder Mel Lewis, who spoke to a reporter from WAFF TV of Huntsville, charged that the Winfield mayor was violating his flock’s right to free speech.
"The mayor ordered our fliers to be taken down," he said. "When did they start religious censorship?"
"We are not breaking any laws. We're not violating any ordinances. We're bringing the Word of God to people who want it, obviously, or they wouldn't be here," said Lewis at the rural venue, decorated with Confederate flags and KKK banners.
The cross-burning ceremony planned for Friday — reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan practice used to intimidate blacks — was especially troubling, said Hezekiah Jackson, president of the Birmingham Metro Chapter of the NAACP.
"The only context that I'm familiar with is one that is not very positive. And one that really symbolizes an era that many of us have hoped to put behind us," Jackson told WIAT TV of Birmingham. "And that is this whole era of Jim Crow, this whole era of white supremacy, this whole era of discrimination and racial hatred."
Lewis said the "cross lighting" ceremony is a symbolic rite of purification that long predates the Klan's inception, according to the report.
Some of the participants in the conference are Ku Klux Klan members, organizers said, though that was not a requirement.
"We don't have the facilities to accommodate other races, and we have nothing, not one bit of animosity, no racism whatsoever," Christian Identity Ministries Pastor William J. Collier told WIAT.
Hundreds of people march from Memorial Plaza in Rapid City, S.D., to Rapid City Regional Hospital on Monday in support of a man who says the letters KKK were carved into his stomach during surgery at the hospital.
RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Hundreds of people marched in support of a tribal elder who says the letters “KKK” were carved into his stomach by a surgeon at a South Dakota hospital.
A YouTube video featuring 69-year-old Vern Traversie, a Lakota man who lives on the Cheyenne River Reservation, has gone viral in Native American communities. In it, Traversie recounts his hospital experience. Though he is blind, Traversie says he was told by others that the scars left after his heart surgery make out the hateful letters, and he is outraged.
The problem is, not everyone sees it. Like those spotting the Madonna in a water stain, Traversie's advocates are staunch believers. Those who aren't include police who investigated his allegations and officials at Rapid City Regional Hospital, where the Aug. 26, 2011, surgery took place.
“We are deeply committed to providing excellent care to everyone, regardless of race. No one at RCRH would stand idly by and allow abuse to occur in this hospital,” hospital CEO Tim Sughrue said in a statement Monday.
He said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the case due to patient privacy laws.
Rapid City police say they conducted an investigation but found no evidence of a crime. Craig Saunders, a cardiologist at Barnabas Hospital in Newark, N.J., said incision marks can take many different shapes, depending on where the doctor needs to get into the body. Saunders, who did not operate on Traversie, said surgical tape also can leave scarring and lesions depend on the make-up of the person's body.
The lack of clear letters hasn't deterred Traversie, his supporters or those who see the scars as more evidence of continued mistreatment of Native American people.
"Rapid City ... we understand you have been carving up our people. This is going to end today," American Indian Movement founder Dennis Banks said to a roaring crowd Monday before leading the supporters on a more than two-mile-long march from a Rapid City plaza to the hospital.
While Traversie's story spurred the protest, many in attendance referred to broken treaties, unsolved murders and incarceration rates among Native Americans as their reasons for showing up.
"We're classified as second-class citizens," said Hap Marshall, 69, a resident of the Cheyenne River reservation. "But when they want our votes, we're their brother."
The protest was relatively peaceful. Officers from the Rapid City Police Department blocked off traffic as the supporters, many dressed in red shirts and waving American Indian Movement flags, marched to the beat of a drummer riding in a truck leading the way. Passing cars occasionally honked.
A group of about 15 people — including Banks and Oglala Sioux Vice President Tom Poor Bear — met with officials at the hospital, while police prevented other supporters from entering the building.
The march was largely organized by Cody Hall, who lives on the Cheyenne River Reservation, and Chase Iron Eyes, who lives on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border, in an effort to bring attention to what they say is continued mistreatment of Native American people.
"We have organized to send a message for once and for all that we are not going to stand for anymore hate crimes or racial violence in this region. It doesn’t matter where you are from; once you get to Rapid, when an Indian steps out of their car, they are labeled as a target,” Hall told Indian Country Today Media Network.
Many in the Native American community believe there are different standards of justice for them and for other races, said Stew Magnuson, who writes a column for a Native American newspaper and wrote a book about issues on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation.
Prior to the 1970s and the American Indian Movement, Native Americans felt powerless without representation on juries. AIM changed that by marching into towns and demanding justice, which no one had ever seen before, Magnuson said, adding: "So, I think some of these feelings live on, rightly or wrongly."
Traversie didn’t attend Monday’s rally.
In a YouTube video interview last month, he says a home health care worker photographed the marks on his front torso when she visited him at home a day after his discharge.
“She said, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know what they did to you,’” Traversie said.