Representatives from five Columbia village boards decided Monday to organize a community meeting to discuss how to fight back against thedistributors of a hate newsletter, which has recently been left at more than 1,000 residences.
The meeting, scheduled for Feb. 6, willask community leaders and residents to consider possible legal action against the distribution of the white supremacist newspaper, said Wendy Tzuker, the village manager for Harper's Choice.
"We think it's important to tell the people who are doing this that we intend to fight them," Tzuker said. "Even if it's a fight that we can't win, we still need to tell them we intend to fight."
The newspaper, Racial Loyalty, contains racist articles and editorials that call for the white race to play a violent role in controlling blacks, Jews and other groups.
Village board members from Harper's Choice, Town Center, Oakland Mills, Wilde Lake and Owen Brown agreed at Monday's meeting to prepare a written statement condemning the newspaper's racist policies.
Some board members also said stronger action should be considered.
"I think we should encourage a lawsuit as quickly as possible," said John Lilly, an Oakland Mills village boardmember. "We need to be emotional about this. This goes against what Columbia is all about, and it's wrong."
A Baltimore-based group ofskinheads, led by former Columbia resident Steven Falk, 18, has distributed the hate literature on three occasions since November. The latest incident left approximately 1,000 copies in Columbia neighborhoods on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
Although the distribution of hate literature is usually protected from criminal penalties by the First Amendment, the Maryland Commission on Human Relations isconsidering filing a lawsuit against the skinhead group.
Under the federal Fair Housing Act, civil fines may be levied against anyone who uses hate material to harass or intimidate "a person's right to live where they choose," said Sandra F. Dobson, a Fair Housing official.
Last week, Falk said the skinhead group was targeting Columbia partly because of the city's principles of racial integration.
Thelaw, adopted by Maryland last summer, has never been tested in court. But no action will be taken unless residents come forward to sign formal complaints, Dobson said.
The Feb. 6 meeting, which will be open to the public, will be attended by police experts, members of theclergy, county Department of Education and other officials. The possibility of signing complaints will be discussed further at that meeting, which Dobson plans to attend.