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Hate group strikes in Poulsbo, Bremerton

POULSBO — Black History Month received some attention in local neighborhoods this week.

But it was not the attention that some would have liked.

Literature from the National Alliance, Kitsap County — an Aryan advancement organization — showed up in the Austurbruin and Deer Run neighborhoods of Poulsbo sometime during the early morning hours of Feb. 11.

Roger Williams, Western States Regional Coordinator for National Alliance, said the fliers were centered on Poulsbo and Bremerton. Two fliers were distributed — one talking about the “Wichita Massacre” and another citing FBI crime statistics.

“February is Black History Month and that is what this was operated around,” Williams explained. “This was targeted in predominantly white neighborhoods, which is our target. The National Alliance is an educational organization and we’re trying to reach out to our people, which are white people of European descent.”

The “Wichita Massacre” flier was the one distributed to Poulsbo neighborhoods. It claims a 2002 kidnap, rape, torture and murder of five Caucasian people in Kansas by two African-American brothers was a racially-motivated crime that received little or no attention. The National Alliance claims the incident was a hate crime.

“This was extremely brutal and it’s well documented, if you do your homework, but the media ignored it,” Williams commented.

But Jerry Hebert, president of the Kitsap Human Rights Network, saw the facts differently. He said the fliers perpetuated a falsehood about hate crimes that has thus far made passing meaningful hate crime legislation in Washington impossible.

“They take facts that have some truth to them and distort it to their message,” Hebert commented. “They don’t understand that race is not about color, it’s about the power structure. These people were not targeted because they were white.”

Many neighbors who received the fliers, which were tied in plastic bags weighted with sand, said they ignored the message.

Austurbruin neighbor Erin Herndon said the fact that her neighborhood was targeted simply made her sad.

“I feel like society has advanced so much that you’d think people would be past these things,” Herndon commented. “That’s never been anything that’s been in my brain so I don’t see how people could think that way.”

Just a few doors down, neighbor Kim Crowder said she was more concerned about kids seeing the fliers.

“That this is the price we pay for free speech, in having something like this distributed in our neighborhood,” Crowder commented “It’s hard in a family neighborhood. It’s like they’re teaching our children something without our permission.”

The content of the fliers is completely legal, said Sergeant Bill Playter, spokesperson for the Poulsbo Police Department. However, PPD officers investigated the Poulsbo neighborhoods Wednesday and tried to take fingerprints from the bags because those responsible would be guilty of littering, Playter added.

“It’s legal to a point but it’s not legal to litter and basically they’re littering,” Playter said.

Local officers also traced the organization to a P.O. Box in Silverdale, which the owner gave a false address to obtain. Playter said Poulsbo Detective Grant Romaine is working with Bremerton Police Detective Robbie Davis to try and determine who is responsible for the littering but said the false address on the P.O. Box is not a police matter.

“I don’t know but I think someone from the government could probably find a crime with that,” Playter commented.

Williams said the National Alliance is meant to be an educational organization and the leadership has a zero tolerance policy against illegal actions.

“When we go and distribute, we’re exercising our First Amendment rights,” Williams said. “No illegal activity is allowed. Our membership is taught not to do that and when we get reports of such activity, we take that very seriously.”

Legal or not, Hebert said his organization feels the National Alliance is a serious threat. He said much of its nationwide literature and recruitment are targeted to youth (including the Alliance Records record label from which it draws revenue) who are much more susceptible to such messages.

“We’re not the only community this is happening in and we need to sit up and take notice that this is a very dangerous thing,” Hebert said. “They are a legitimate threat to our society. We are in fact working with two other organizations to formalize a more substantial response. We are not going to let this go unanswered.”

Hebert said, locally, he knows of similar fliers being distributed in Bremerton, East Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, Parkwood East and Gamblewood. And while he said he agrees the group has the First Amendment right to distribute such information, he urged First Alliance, Kitsap County members to meet him in a public forum.

“It’s interesting these cowards hide behind post office boxes and blind e-mails instead of coming right out in the public and saying what they believe. I would challenge them to come to the table and sit down and talk about their beliefs. I want to make it a public event.”

Williams said the National Alliance currently does not have a designated spokesperson for Washington State but would welcome a public forum as soon as it does.

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