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Thursday, 25 September 2014

KKK paper delivered in Zeeland shocks city officials

Zeeland officials expressed shock after dozens of newspapers produced by a Ku Klux Klan group were dropped off early Monday morning, Sept. 15. Councilman Schyuler Wilson told The Sentinel he heard a loud pick-up truck rumbling down Church Street before dawn.
When he stepped onto his porch he found a copy of the newspaper.
"I looked down the street and they were on everyone's lawn, in blue bags," he said, adding he saw more on his walk to work, including bundles left on the lawns of some downtown churches.
Wilson brought the paper to Monday's council meeting. No other city officials present received the paper; all expressed shock.
City Attorney Jim Donkersloot said the paper is protected by the Constitution's First Amendment, which protects free speech. Delivering the paper is not against the law, he said. the city has an ordinance against littering, but that could create a "sticky" situation, city officials said.
"Certainly we're not endorsing it," said City Manger Tim Klunder, who noted the street names where the paper had been spotted and is keeping Wilson's copy on file. "Why they chose this area, I have no idea."
One person filed a complaint with Zeeland's police department on Tuesday according to Zeeland police.
The paper was produced by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which produced the paper, said Billy Roper in a phone interview from the group's Arkansas headquarters. Roper said he is a member, but not an official spokesman, referring Sentinel inquiries to former Detroiter Thomas Robb, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan's national director. Robb was unavailable Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 16. Roper confirmed that the paper had been produced by his group. Roper, who declined to cite figures, said the The Knights Party has a "strong membership" in Michigan and surrounding states and scattered members worldwide.
"We're not always responsible for everything done under the KKK headline, but we do own kkk.com and kkk.bz," he said, adding that he assumed some fellow members of his group made the Zeeland delivery. "We're not at all upset someone is helping us deliver our message, which is in opposition of white genocide."
Klunder, who has worked for the city since 2002, said he had not heard of an KKK-related activity in Zeeland.
KKK history in Ottawa County dates back many years. A Sept. 17, 1923, story in the Grand Haven Tribune mentions a cross-burning rally on Dewey Hill, where the city's musical foundation now stands.

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