Copies of a white supremacist newspaper published by a North Carolina church known for its violent hate tactics appeared on about 50 lawns of a racially mixed Columbia neighborhood yesterday, prompting an investigation by police and human rights officials.
And although some residents of the West Running Brook neighborhood are fearful, police say they can do little other than try to identify the local distributor of the newspaper, which is protected under the First Amendment.
"We're required by the state to record incidents of racial and ethnic bias, but as far as prosecution is concerned, no law has been broken," said Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a Howard County police spokesman.
The 12-page newspaper, titled "Racial Loyalty," is published by theChurch of the Creator, based in Otto, N.C. The church argues that blacks, Jews, Christians and other "mud races" threaten the survival ofwhites.
Sometime early yesterday morning or late Thursday, copiesof the newspaper were left on lawns and in mail boxes of homes alongWest Running Running Brook Road, in Wilde Lake village near the center of Columbia.
Quinlan J. Shea Jr., a retired civil rights administrator at the U.S. Department of Justice who lives on nearby Wildflower Terrace, said he found a copy of the paper at the edge of his driveway.
"I would like to know who the local distributors are. If they are such heroes and crusaders, then why are they running around indarkness, hiding behind constitutionally protected hate messages?" Shea said.
The newspaper, which contains articles and editorials containing incendiary messages about ethnic groups, is labeled the "Spearhead of the White Racial Holy War." Although it is printed in NorthCarolina, the newspaper lists Baltimore and Ellicott City post office boxes for local contacts.
The Church of the Creator, headquartered in Macon County, has been criticized by anti-hate
groups for its violent messages and actions. In May, a Jacksonville, Fla., church member, the Rev. George David Loeb, was charged with fatally shootinga black Persian Gulf war veteran.
"They may be protected by freedom of speech, and we may not be able to stop them, but we ought to beable to expose them," Shea said.
Michael Deets, who lives with his family on West Running Brook Drive, said it seemed foolish that church members would try to spread their message in Columbia.
"Obviously it was done by outsiders who don't realize how ignorant it is to do this in Columbia," Deets said. "We were built as part of an integrated community. They're not going to find any supporters here."
Deets, who serves as a Wilde Lake village board representative, said residents "ought to just simply throw it away as trash." He said his parents have lived in Columbia for 20 years and originally moved there partly because of its socially integrated concept.
"I really hope they find out who it was that left such a thing, so everyone could beassured that it wasn't anyone from Columbia."
Rick Godfrey, a county firefighter who has lived in the neighborhood for five years, said he was surprised someone would attempt to preach hatred in the integrated community.
"This is an absolutely wonderful neighborhood. Ican't imagine why they would want to come here to do this," he said.
Cynthia Harvey, who heads the county human rights office, said she was not surprised that a hate group would target Columbia.
"Thiswould be an area that they would like to invade, just like any other. It doesn't surprise me that they're here," she said. "We're going to do some digging to find out who is distributing this."
BY: Michael James
SO: Staff writer