The message contained on a Ku Klux Klan flier that hit Fairview Township on Friday migh have had the opposite of the intended reaction.
"Are there troubles in your neighborhood?" read the fliers, depicting a hooded figure. "You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!"
But residents in the peaceful rural neighborhood around Ridge Road were concerned and called police to report the white supremacist literature had been dropped in their driveways and on their doorsteps, police said.
Township police Lt. Jason Loper said the fliers, however unsavory, didn't issue a direct threat and are a matter of free speech.
The only possible legal infraction was littering, as the Klan fliers were contained in plastic sleeves weighed down with stones so they didn't blow away.
But everyone from lawn care companies to local churches distribute fliers, and the police can't target the Klan just because most people don't agree with its message, Loper said.
"There's not a whole lot we can do about it," he said. "It's a freedom of speech issue and, while vast majority of most residents don't agree with their philosophy, we can't discriminate against them...or we'll open ourselves to a lawsuit."
Loper said he's not aware of a big Klan following in the township, which is about 95 percent white, and the township has "never had these issues before."
There's not a lot of crime in the neighborhood and there have been no reports of racial discord, he said. There's no reason to believe the Klan is targeting a specific resident or family, he said.
"Basically, I think the KKK is trying to get their name out there," he said, adding that media coverage of the fliers is helping their cause.
--Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.