A Congregational Church pastor in Boothbay Harbor reportedly told NBC affiliate WCSH Wednesday that a parishioner found packets containing what appear to be Ku Klux Klan brochures along Route 27, the main road into town.
The Rev. Sarah Foulger reportedly told the Portland television station that the messages, which include a reference to a Bible verse and anti-transgender language, were found inside plastic bags that also contained small rocks. She said they appeared to have been thrown onto lawns.
The number of packets was not immediately known, although Foulger told the television station that church members also found them on Middle Road and Lakeside Drive.
On Wednesday evening, Boothbay Harbor Police Chief Robert Hasch wrote on the department’s Facebook page to reassure residents, tourists and others that his department is aware of the “disturbing” fliers found around town, but that the area is “hard working, innovative, kind, caring, inclusive, welcoming, [and] friendly.”
He encouraged people to call the department with concerns or questions at any time.
“Everyone should feel safe and welcome here, and we will do everything in our power to be sure you all feel that way,” he wrote.
Later Wednesday, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said that their office and Wiscasset police had also received reports of such pamphlets left on lawns and driveways. They, along with Damariscotta police, are investigating, according to Lt. Michael J. Murphy.
“While unsettling to many, this appears to be nothing more than an expression of free speech and does not seem directed at any one individual nor related to any other incident locally or nationally,” Murphy wrote in a release. “However, the manner in which the flyers were distributed on both public and private property is a violation of Maine’s litter laws and an indication the distributors may lack organization.”
The KKK is a secret society with a historical reputation for violence, white supremacy and racism, primarily in the South, although it does have deep Maine roots. Its membership is now estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 members in loose factions across the country.
In the past week, the KKK has figured prominently in a global controversy triggered by a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of a counterprotester and many injuries.
Recruitment fliers and other materials from the group have been found in various places in Maine this year, marking an apparent uptick in its activity here, although no one has claimed responsibility for distributing the materials. In January, fliers displaying the KKK insignia were found in plastic bags in the neighborhood where Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon resides.