Racial propaganda causes concern in Greenpoint
Reported on June 18, 2011
White supremacist fliers found in Greenpoint last month may have ruffled some feathers, but their message is protected under the First Amendment, officials say.
On the morning of May 25, police found fliers urging whites to “awake” and “save” their “great race,” placed under the windshield wipers of cars parked on Greenpoint Avenue. The 94th Precinct notified the New York Police Department Hate Crimes Unit, which told local officers that since the fliers didn’t mention hate or threaten violence to a specific group they were protected under the right to free speech. Brooklyn Community Board 1 members said this week that the investigation was closed.
Mieszko Kalita, owner of Beata Deli on Manhattan Avenue and chairman of the community board’s public safety committee, said there was no evidence to suggest a racist movement is afoot in the neighborhood. “It’s a first time and may just be a single occurrence,” he said, adding that it was quite possible the fliers were left by a single individual. “If there’s a second time, it will raise eyebrows and cause concern.”
Officer Steve Truglio of the 94th Precinct said the distribution appeared to have been minimal, adding police weren’t aware of any further circulation of the fliers.
The fliers promoted the Creativity Movement, a national supremacist group that bills itself as religious. A spokesman for the New York chapter of the group, who calls himself Brother Joseph Adams, said he couldn’t discuss the number of members in New York City and wasn’t aware of any recruitment push in Greenpoint. But Adams, who was interviewed over the phone after being contacted through the group’s website, said members are encouraged to use fliers to get their message out. He said the group wouldn’t officially take credit for this incident though, since members are asked to respect city litter laws, which prohibit leaving fliers on cars.
Adams said Creativity Movement does not condone violence in support of its message, and in fact has a “love first” mantra for whites. But the nontheistic group, Adams said, doesn’t exactly have a “turn the other cheek” attitude. “Yes, we hate our enemies,” he said. “I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Loving your enemies would be suicidal.”
Members of the church, formerly known as the Church of the Creator, have been involved in violent crimes across the country since the movement formed in 1973. Matt Hale, the national leader of the church in the 1990s, is currently in an Illinois prison, accused of soliciting the murder of a judge who was presiding over a case involving Hale. “We can’t babysit each member,” Adams said. “Any religion […] has violence.”
Kalita, the public safety committee chair, made light of the situation. A native of Poland, Kalita said he respects all religions practiced in the United States but noted he was only in fourth grade when Creativity Movement formed in 1973. “I have problems with religions younger than myself,” he said.
But to Rabbi Maurice Appelbaum of Greenpoint Shul, the fliers aren’t a laughing matter. “I do think the police should take this very seriously, it shouldn’t be swept under the carpet,” he said. Appelbaum, leader of the only synagogue in the neighborhood, said that most residents he has spoken to are unified in their disgust over the fliers. “We have a lot of different subgroups, but there’s a lot of respect between them,” the rabbi said.
Robin Levy, assistant regional director of the New York branch of the Anti-Defamation League, said though the fliers don’t imply violence, they were an eye-opener. “It’s a constant reminder that hate still exists, even in diverse New York,” she said.