Leaflets contain anti-Semitic, racist messages
Anti-Semitic and racist fliers from a white supremacist group landed on the lawns of more than 50 Montclair homes at random on Sunday, prompting anger and bewilderment from recipients of the literature.
The folded white papers were tucked into small plastic bags, revealing only the header, “I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag,” and were tossed alongside Sunday newspapers at 50 or more driveways on Highland Avenue, north of Bradford Avenue.
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Unfurled, the group of papers carried messages from the National Alliance, a West Virginia-based group, decrying the Jewish lobby’s strength in the United States, alleging Jewish control of major media outlets, and calling for the deportation of all African-Americans back to Africa, according to copies obtained from the Montclair Police Department.
Harris Cohen, a Highland Avenue resident, said he found the leaflets after his neighbor brought it to his attention Sunday morning.
“Are things starting up in Montclair that have never been here before?” Cohen, who is Jewish, said of his reaction to the flier.
Asked if he felt threatened, Cohen, 78, said: “I was angry, not scared. I’m too old to be scared.”
Nevertheless, Cohen called the Montclair Police Department, which filed a complaint about the unsolicited fliers.
Deputy Chief Roger Terry said the complaint would probably be submitted to the FBI for a federal investigation. He added that the homeowners were not targeted due to their race or religious beliefs.
Peggy Santoro, Cohen’s neighbor, found the fliers next to her Sunday newspaper. She and her husband, Len, estimated that the fliers, which she called “horrifying,” arrived sometime between 6:15 and 10 a.m.
Santoro, who is not Jewish, said she was particularly puzzled why a group like National Alliance would target a town with an aura of tolerance for race, religion, politics and sexual preference.
The fliers seem to invite the readers to join their cause with phrases “Let’s begin today,” Let’s start taking it back,” and “Let’s send them all back to Africa” printed alongside the National Alliance Web site, mailing address, and phone number.
Most of the fliers distributed to homes can be downloaded and printed from the Web site.
The National Alliance formed in 1974 as an offshoot of the National Youth Alliance, founded four years earlier by William Pierce, a physics professor. The group’s summary statement of belief speaks of advancing the Aryan race.
A call to the number on the flier plays a recording from Pierce, who died in November 2002, according to the group’s Web site, reiterating the National Alliance’s goal of protecting the interests of men and women of European descent.
Rob Hammerling’s home at the corner of Lorraine Avenue and Park Street also received literature from the National Alliance on Sunday.
His teenage children found the leaflets tucked into their home’s door handle that afternoon. When Hammerling returned home from a motorcycle rally, his younger children, ages 9 and 10, were terrified and in tears, he said.
“This stuff is truly vile. It is vile,” said Hammerling, who is Jewish.
Hammerling, who owns guns and monitors his home with security cameras, though not at the front door, offered a warning to whomever delivered the fliers. “If I catch them, it simply won’t turn out well for them,” he said.
Though Hammerling said he supports free speech, he objected to the invasion into his private property and the way the message upset his children.
One flier identified the National Alliance as “a law-abiding American organization,” a statement that Deborah Jacobs, executive director of ACLU of New Jersey, said could be applied to the group’s method for distributing fliers. Mailing, emailing and dropping off fliers are all unrestricted forms of communication, Jacobs said.
“They have a right to communicate with other people, even if they don’t want to be communicated with,” said Jacobs, a Montclair resident.
The First Amendment and Supreme Court decisions protect the fliers as free speech provided the message does not specifically incite violence, no matter how unpopular or offensive the materials may seem, Jacobs said.
The fliers reminded Harris Cohen’s wife, Renée, of a spate of offensive vandalism in Glen Ridge this past month, where a swastika and other offensive symbols were spray-painted on a wall behind an elementary school, and the words “Jew Boy” were etched into a school superintendent’s car.
The Rev. Charles Blustein Ortman, the head of the Montclair Clergy Association, said offended residents should speak out against this overt bias that has crept into Montclair.
“Oftentimes in Montclair, we think we are immune from such outlandish bias, and we aren’t. As we see throughout the world around us, in Montclair, the bias and the boldness to express that bias and hatred are growing,” said Ortman, pastor at the Unitarian Church of Montclair.