Some residents of the quiet central Missouri town of Lexington were stunned to wake up Monday morning to find recruitment letters from the Ku Klux Klan on their front lawns.
One of the letters said, "You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake." The two letters were placed in plastic bags along with a rock to weigh down the bag, which were tossed onto front lawns along Franklin, Main and other streets in Lexington.
Frank Ancona, an imperial wizard for the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK, said it is a harmless message as part of an effort to recruit more women members.
"We are trying to form neighborhood watches in a lot of different communities," Ancona said.
The Lexington Police Department is investigating whether to determine any littering laws were broken, police Chief Don Rector told KCTV5. The investigation will include whether this could be a hate crime, but that is unlikely because the First Amendment and its free speech right protects the KKK to some degree.
Rector estimates several hundred bags littered the city's streets.
John Hanna was among those astonished and upset by the letters that were on his sidewalk.
"I've lived in Lexington all my life," he said. "I haven't seen a problem like this before."
Ancona said his is a Christian-based white supremacy organization in which its Lexington members have been forced into anonymity.
"Everybody wants their beliefs to be tolerated but they have no tolerance for our viewpoint," he said. "And many of our members have been fired from their jobs for letting it be known that they were members or expressing our viewpoint."
The letters and Ancona emphasize that the KKK is not singling out any group based on their color of their skin or creed, with Ancona saying they are a pro-white brotherhood. He says Lexington residents shouldn't fear the group or its efforts and says they aren't a hate group and will not intimidate anyone.
"We're not discriminating against anyone," said Ancona, who did a telephone interview with KCTV5. He is based in Park Hills, MO. "We are looking for criminal activity in our neighborhoods. If a white guy is breaking into an African-American's car, we're going to call law enforcement and let them know about it."
He said the Klan wants to foster a feeling of safety in neighborhoods.
"We're out looking for criminal activity in our neighborhoods and we would report it to law enforcement," he said. "We are not an anti-organization. We are for our race, for our people."
He said only white Christian men and women can join the KKK, saying the organization wants to maintain "the white man's" supremacy in the United States.
Rector said residents should call police if they see any Klan behavior and not to confront the members.
Hanna said racism needs to end in the United States.
"It's 2013. People need to realize them days are over with," Hanna said. "What's going through people's minds to promote something like this. To me, it's racism ... It has to stop."
Editor's Note: The KKK leader is not related to the Honda dealership by the same name in Johnson County.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.