Racist flyers in Hanover prompt state forum

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Myneca Ojo gives testimony during the second Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission hearing at York City Council Chambers Friday, June 22, 2018. The hearing was in response to allegations that she and four and other members of the Sisters in the Fairway were racially harassed during an incident at Grandview Golf Club in April. Bill Kalina photo

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has called a town hall to address racist flyers targeting Hanover Mayor Myneca Ojo that were distributed in March.

The town hall will take place  6-8 p.m. on Thursday at  Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover. It will be the fourth installment of the PHRC's York Town Hall Series to address racism in the community.

"There are pockets of hate everywhere," said PHRC spokeswoman Renee Martin. "Some are larger than others, and York unfortunately has a long history with this. But it takes everyone to solve the problem."

The flyers labeled Ojo — the borough's first female African American mayor — an "ultra-left wing African feminist" who aims to replace "European Christian traditions with African sloth, thievery, violence and squalor." 

 Ojo didn't immediately respond Tuesday to calls seeking comment. 

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It is unlikely that town halls will change how people who harbor racist sentiments feel, Martin said. But public discourse can change how they act upon  those feelings, Martin said.

Hanover, which has an 85% white population, is just one of several communities that has dealt with racially charged propaganda within the past year.

In August, Members of the Ku Klux Klan's White Knights of America distributed recruitment flyers in a Dover Township neighborhood. The flyers were also found in West Manchester.

The police investigated, but no one was charged.

Those incidents came not long after Ojo and four African American women, known as the "Sisters in the Fairway," made national news after having the cops called on them  at Grandview Golf Course in Dover Township for alleged slow pace of play.

The incident prompted a two-day hearing by the PHRC. Former county Commissioner Steve Chronister, who helps run the family business and called the police that day, didn't attend. 

Earlier this year, the PHRC released a report outlining such incidents and how to address them moving forward. It notes public awareness of racial issues has increased locally, with residents countywide reaching out to the commission asking how they can help.

The commission is now working with the Anti-Defamation League to keep tabs on hate groups and incidents such as the one in Hanover. It is also collaborating with partners such as the Pennsylvania State Police, the state Attorney General’s office and the NAACP.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of York City's race riots, which left two dead and prompted trials decades later.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.