TALLASSEE, AL (WSFA) - Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona, leader of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, confirms that it was his organization that passed out recruitment fliers in Tallassee over the weekend.
Tallassee residents discovered fliers folded up, placed in Ziploc baggies and weighted down with rocks. Police believe the flyers were distributed Saturday night. A small silver SUV was spotted around midnight riding through the neighborhoods.
The message states that the group is looking for "intelligent, awake, aware, Christian White people to stand up for our race, our heritage and our American way of life." It adds that the organization is "NOT a hate group nor domestic terrorists."
The fliers also included a website and phone number for those interested to find out more information. The phrase: "The KKK Wants You!" is printed across the bottom of the pamphlets.
Ancona says it's perfectly legal for the Missouri-based group to put out fliers and as long as they are properly weighted down, it can't be considered littering.
When asked why Tallassee was chosen as a recruitment spot, Ancona says it's up to the local leadership as to where to put out information. The Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK is always recruiting new members and want members all over the country, Ancona said.
The group is a "fraternal brotherhood" that does not commit acts of violence or teach members to hate, although they do believe in racial separation, Ancona told WSFA.
The organization regularly tries to buy advertising from local media outlets but are turned down so that is why they use the fliers to distribute information.
Ancona says he is not trying to harm or intimidate with the fliers and that his organization has received an "80 percent positive" response from the documents passed out in Tallassee with folks calling and expressing interest and asking for more information.
Tallassee Police Chief Jimmy Rodgers says the department received a lot of calls from alarmed people in the community who received the fliers.
"It created some grave concerns in our community just like any other community with something like this being passed out. You get quite discouraged when you think about all the steps that have been taken in today's culture to change that mindset. To have individuals passing out pamphlets like this, it kind of contradicts what a Christian faith is all about and that's that people should be equal and have the same rights to freedoms," Rodgers told WSFA.
Officers have been patrolling neighborhoods and removing the fliers. On Monday alone, they collected nearly 200 of the fliers from driveways in neighborhoods along Highway 14.
While some brushed off the unexpected deliveries and tossed them in the trash, other residents expressed serious concerns about the KKK apparently reaching out to the town for new members.
"Residents are displeased with it, they don't want it and they want this out of town," said Charles Blalock, Tallassee City Councilman for Ward 3. "I don't believe we have those kind of sympathizers in our town when it relates to the Ku Klux Klan."
"Something like that isn't going to receive any support in this community. Nobody wants this kind of thing in their community so the best thing to do in my eyes is to ignore it," added Chuck Totty, a local business owner who received one of the fliers in his yard.
As far as prosecution goes, Tallassee PD is working with the Elmore County District Attorney's Office. Rodgers said those responsible could face littering violations or more substantial charges if police find that they took more serious actions in the town.
"Anything of this nature being passed out in the community rehashes a lot of difficult thoughts in people's minds and we're just trying to reassure them that that's exactly what they're striving for is to set a state of panic so to speak in the community," Rodgers added. "We're trying to contradict that and take every step that we can to locate the people responsible for these actions."
In the past year, media outlets in Saint Louis and Nashville reported that similar fliers from the same group were passed out in local neighborhoods.
Ancona said local law enforcement resources could be better spent on other things than investigating the fliers and that it is the group's constitutional right to pass out information.
The imperial wizard did recognize that there was a typo on the fliers for the group's phone number which led callers to a telemarketing company instead of their "24 hour Klanline" and caused many to think it was a prank.
The Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan gained national attention when they were featured in a Discovery Channel special called: "KKK: Beneath the Hood." Ancona did not elaborate on how many members the organization has in the Montgomery area.