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KKK using race, religious tensions to lure new members, experts say

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) – Homeowners in another central Indiana community found what they consider hate speech scattered in their yards.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said the flyers landed in front of homes in Franklin in the 300 block of State Road 44, encouraging people to join the Ku Klux Klan.

A similar incident happened last month in Hamilton County.

The act of “leafletting,” as it’s called, isn’t necessarily new. But experts on the topic said the fact that people are seeing it happen more could be directly related to the obvious tension across the country involving race and religion.

In a quiet corner of Johnson County along State Road 44, neighbors say they rarely have they heard such hateful words.

The KKK flyer found in yards stated how “Muslims, ISIS, #blacklivesmatters” and other groups such as the LGBTQ community are attacking white people.

Neighbor Dave Logan lives a short distance from one of the homes where the flyer was found and was disgusted by what it said.

“There may be issues with a lot of the things that’s in here,” he said of the flyer. “But for the hatred, there’s just no place for that.”

It clearly wasn’t going to convert him, and experts on the topic feel that is most likely what will happen for others who received the flyers.

“I think it’s highly unsuccessful,” said Bryan Byers, a criminal justice professor at Ball State University. He’s researched hate crimes as well as KKK’s actions for years. He’s not surprised the Klan is making its presence felt from Fishers to Franklin, especially with the presidential election around the corner.

“There’s quite a bit of vitriol going on right now in this country with regard to issues that the Klan actually has quite a bit of interest in,” he said.

Byers added that the Klan likely picked towns in Hamilton and Johnson Counties for a reason.

“I’m not going to suggest at all that anyone in those communities are particularly inclined to believe in what the Klan is saying but the Klan knows that they’re going to get more a more favorable reception in a community that’s mostly white and affluent as opposed to communities that are mostly not white and not affluent,” he said.

Issues like terrorism and homosexuality were also mentioned in the flyer, but Byers doubts the leaflets will make people believe in the KKK’s ideals.

“Those individuals who would probably be most inclined to find it interesting or respond to [the KKK] are probably going to be people who are already inclined to think that way anyway,” he said.

In this corner of Franklin, Logan said you won’t find those people. “This is hate we don’t need,” he said while looking down at the flyer.

24-Hour News 8 reached out to the phone number on the flyer by text, hoping to hear why homes in Franklin were targeted. The response read in part: “Indiana will always be the stronghold of great white Christian Klansmen.” We were told to call the imperial wizard for further comment. 24-Hour News 8 made several calls and left voicemails with him but never heard back.

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