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KKK sues over Cape Girardeau's leafleting restrictions

Sunday, September 9, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Ku Klux Klan group claims Cape Girardeau's ban on leafleting unoccupied vehicles violates Klan members' free speech rights, according to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK had planned to place handbills on vehicles in Cape Girardeau on Sept. 28 and other dates that have not been determined. But the Klan group learned the city only permits fliers to be distributed when vehicle occupants are willing to accept them.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Cape Girardeau alleges the leafleting restrictions infringe upon the group's free speech rights under the First Amendment. The Klan group also is seeking a preliminary injunction barring the city from enforcing the ordinance while the issue is being resolved.

Cape Girardeau's attorney was out of the office Friday and couldn't be reached for comment.

The Traditionalist American Knights' Imperial Wizard, Frank Ancona, of Park Hills, Mo., said his group isn't looking for "special treatment."

"We just want our rights like everybody else that are guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution," he said. "We had this planned for the 28th, and we want to be able to do it. It's just putting out informational fliers to the public to make them aware of our organization and what we stand for and things like that."

Ancona's group describes itself as a nonviolent "White Patriotic Christian organization." He said it's approaching 2,000 members.

The lawsuit says the group uses leaflets to spread the message that "for our Nation to remain successful, white supremacy and the purity of the white blood must be maintained."

According to the lawsuit, the leaflets also point out group members' belief that advancement of Shariah law is "undermining society" along with the "promotion of immoral public figures, and widespread use of illegal drugs."

Klan members fear being arrested, fined or imprisoned. The lawsuit says police in Cape Girardeau told Ancona that the leafleting ordinance would be enforced if the group goes through with its plans.

Violating the ordinance can result in up to three months' imprisonment, a fine of up to $500, or a combination of both.

Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, said the organization has successfully fought other Missouri cities' leafleting restrictions. The ACLU won a consent judgment in 2010 barring St. Louis from enforcing an anti-eminent domain group from leafleting vehicles. Later that year, the city of Kirkwood repealed its prohibition on leafleting unoccupied vehicles after the ACLU got involved when a man promoting a Martin Luther King Day event ran afoul of the ordinance.

Rothert said leafleting vehicles "is especially important because it is a cheap and effective way to reach a large audience with a message, and that is true across all the cases no matter who the plaintiff is."

In June, two western Pennsylvania mobile home parks received fliers from a Ku Klux Klan group that were tossed in sandwich bags weighted down by rocks, including one that cracked a truck's windshield. The fliers invited people to visit a website or call a toll-free number to join the Traditionalist American Knights.

Ancona said there are a lot of places where the groups' fliers have been distributed. He said he didn't know the details of what happened in Pennsylvania and couldn't comment on the incident.

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I was declined from putting leaflets on cars when I started a cleaning business many, many years ago; but after understanding why the restrictions are there, I respected the city of Cape Girardeau for holding their ground...and still do!

-- Posted by Carowine on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 12:22 PM

Stupid ACLU. Defending the rights of racist haters instead of the rights of people to be free from their hatred. What decade is this again?

-- Posted by newaroundhere on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 12:28 PM

Sure didn't stop the politicians. Just means more trash on the streets and parking lots. If they win this it'll open the flood gates.

-- Posted by Responder1 on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 12:38 PM

Why is it called racist when it's white people and NOT racist when black people do the same thing? Civil rights are for everyone and "haters" aren't just white.

-- Posted by taxpayer on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 12:40 PM

The city does NOT enforce their residential leafleting laws during political season, either. They will come down on businesses for leaving coupons on door knobs, but they will look the other way when politicians litter the community with thousands of them near voting time. Enforce the laws all the time! If the KKK can show inconsistent enforcement, they just might win. Unfortunately.

-- Posted by slim_pickens on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 1:00 PM

The first amendment doesn't give them the right to litter my car with their hateful racist propaganda!!

-- Posted by chinook on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 1:08 PM

Do I agree with the message? No. Do I agree with their right to say it? Yes. Same as with the Westboro Baptist idiots.

The ACLU didn't take this case because it was the KKK. They took it in spite of that.

-- Posted by SWAS on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 1:37 PM

I'm no legal expert nor a lawyer, but would like to hear from someone with a legal background --

Could you sue them for breaking your windshield wipers or for damaging your car? You have proof that they touched the wipers, and have proof that they were touching your car. Get new wipers and take them to small claims court? Maybe that would work, even if you lose, they have to be hassled to show up and defend themselves in court, and I'm pretty sure a small claims case doesn't allow an attorney to speak for them, they would have to show up themselves personally. It might make them think twice about doing it in the future?

Also, if you actually see them placing leaflets, could you call the police (not 911) and ask to have them cited for littering? Wherever they are, there will be multiple flyers laying on the ground, if the people placing the leaflets are still present seems like a no-brainer on who is responsible for the littering.

Also, could you actually make the case they are littering if they put it on your car when you didn't give them permission to do so? As in, "why should I be responsible for properly/legally disposing of this leaflet, I didn't want it or request it in the first place".

-- Posted by bam-bam on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 1:48 PM

If it's unrequested and unwanted, it's litter. Doesn't matter if it's a newspaper in the yard or a leaflet. Issue citations for every complaint and the problem will go away.

-- Posted by malan on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 1:55 PM

Well low and behold look who filed the lawsuit. The American Communist Lawyers Union. What a fine group that is.

-- Posted by Mowrangler on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 2:31 PM

This could be interpreted as harassment of the public with their insistence that people read their fliers.

Furthermore, their message for the reasoning of publicly placing the leaflets ("for white supremacy and maintenance of the purity of the white blood", is not biblical in my opinion. People are already aware of the KKK and its persecution of the races. Bigotry has no place in society.

-- Posted by Blue_Moon on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 2:53 PM

Back in the 1920's, the Klan came to my father's house to enlist his aid in burning the local Catholic church. He gave them the only kind of answer such cowards could understand--a Winchester 1897 twelve-gauge shotgun. These so-called "men" dispersed and were not seen again.

-- Posted by Sir Billy on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 4:53 PM

I do not agree with these type of people in any way, and I don't feel it is right for any group to leave information on my car or my house even. I see where it says in the beginning of the article, "claims a southeast Missouri city's ban on leafleting unoccupied vehicles." So when are city officials going to fine all those politicians that left their "information" on my cars and house. I also think all these groups should be fined for littering if any of their "information" is found in the streets.

I have no problem receiving any groups "information" if they present it to me instead of leaving it and running like some coward. But since all these people do not know any other way I propose that you mail your "information" to me. This should make many people happy since it will help the USPS and also many of these groups could not afford to send out all their "information".

-- Posted by irishjester on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 6:46 PM

The ordinance doesn't override private property owner's rights. If they are at a private business, say the Mall for example, the owners of the private property can have them removed regardless of what the ordinance says. You can't just walk onto someone's private property and start handing out things unsolicited without the owner's permission, ordinance or not.

-- Posted by gomer on Fri, Sep 7, 2012, at 7:47 PM

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