'We don't want this here': Love County community unites in response to unsolicited KKK flyers
Many Marietta residents were outraged after receiving unsolicited KKK recruitment flyers Saturday morning. Rather than dividing the community, however, the incident has evoked a call for unity and love for their fellow neighbors.
Marietta Police Chief Dustin Scott said more than 50 flyers were distributed to multiple residences. The flyers were promoting a Ku Klux Klan organization referring to itself as a church.
Craig Sparks, a local Ardmore resident, said he grew up in Marietta and was shocked to see what had happened. “I went to school with a lot of the folks that live in that neighborhood,” Sparks said. “I just took it as a personal affront that someone would take those kind, gentle-spirited folks — good people — and they would do something so blatantly hateful.”
The next day, Sparks decided to drive down to Marietta and hold a protest at Shellenberger Park. There, he was joined by a few individuals holding various signs with messages supporting people of all races and encouraging love and unity. “Can’t spell community without unity. Love County means love all," one of the signs read.
“I just wanted that community to know that they had love and support, even if we don’t live in the community with them,” Sparks said. “We’re all one big community on this planet. We want to just show that these hateful people can’t come in and scare us.”
Marietta City Mayor Kimberly Fraire referred to the act as a “disgusting” attempt to insight hate or divide in the community, but Fraire said they have seen the opposite reaction.
"Everyone is equally disgusted by it and that is a very positive response to me that the citizens of this town have come together and realized that this isn’t going to happen here and they’re standing by each other and saying ‘We don’t want this here',” Fraire said.
The protest on Sunday garnered a positive response from the community, Sparks said. As a result, many have come together to plan another peace rally set for 3 p.m. on Jan. 31. The peace rally will also be held at Shellenberger Park and is open to anyone.
Sparks said they want to refrain from giving light to the organization that handed out the flyers, and instead focus on promoting unity within the community.
“We’re going to unify together to show solidarity and support of one another,” Sparks said. “They’re not going to keep us from being a unified community with peace and love in our hearts, and wanting to share that peace and love with other people in the community.”
Scott said the Marietta Police Department is continuing to investigate the incident and is encouraging anyone with any information or surveillance footage to contact police at (580) 276-9371.
“We’re still in the process of collecting evidence and trying to obtain evidence from citizens so we can identify those that are responsible,” Scott said. Once the investigation is complete, Scott said police will provide the information to the district attorney, who will then determine what legal action may be taken.
While the flyers did not appear to be targeting any specific areas or residences in town, Fraire said some who received them perceived the flyers as a threat.
“The several houses that received this message that happened to be minorities, there’s a fear that’s involved even though it was an invitation to join this said church," Fraire said. "It’s not an invite to that minority, it feels like a threat."
Scott said he is unaware of anything like this happening in the town before, and Fraire encouraged citizens to keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles or activity.
“We are the heart of Love County, we stand beside each other, we stand together, we stand united," Fraire said. “We're here for one another and no matter what we’re here for our neighbors.”