A Long Beach Peninsula man who says he is responsible for posting Ku Klux Klan flyers in downtown Astoria told police he does not have official ties to the klan but wanted to attract politically like-minded people.
Astoria police have declined to publicly name the man because of safety concerns. He told police he received threats after he was identified through social media.
Flyers pasted on the sides of buildings this month depicted a klansman in full regalia and the message, “The KKK Wants You!” Along the bottom were pull tabs with a hyperlink to a server page on Discord, an anonymous voice and text chat website and mobile application.
The content of the flyers is protected as free speech. But posting flyers without the permission of property owners is a violation of a city ordinance. The issue will be forwarded to City Attorney Blair Henningsgaard for review. The violation comes with a fine of up to $1,000.
“The individual advised that he does not have any official ties to the Ku Klux Klan and only intended to seek politically like-minded people to engage in discussion and discourse,” Astoria Deputy Police Chief Eric Halverson said in a news release. “As a result of the postings, the individual reported that he has received threats, and others acquainted with him including family members have been contacted and threatened.”
Halverson also pointed out “that threats of violence against individuals do not constitute freedom of speech and may constitute criminal conduct. Astoria Police Department has made contact with the law enforcement agency where the individual lives because of threats and related safety concerns for the individual.
“The Astoria Police Department takes all threats and potential threats of violence and hate crimes very seriously and will commit appropriate resources to identify responsible individuals and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
The KKK had a strong presence in the Pacific Northwest — including communities at the mouth of the Columbia River — in the early 20th century. Members opposed immigration, especially from China and other Asian nations.