Police say they're aware of the activity but that it is likely protected by the First Amendment; ADL urges residents to report anti-immigrant activity to law enforcement.
Someone distributed candy-laden leaflets over the weekend encouraging people in the Bellevue and Clyde Hill area to “Keep America American” and report illegal aliens to a Department of Homeland Security investigations tip line.
The anti-immigrant messages directed recipients to a web address of a group the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a neo-Nazi splinter group.
The Anti-Defamation League of the Pacific Northwest tweeted a photograph of a small pile of the flyers — each in a baggie with a candy bar — and blamed them on “white supremacists.”
“Report any and all illegal aliens,” the flyer said. “They are not immigrants they are CRIMINALS.”
“Honestly, I am shaking and thoroughly disgusted that fascists are at work here,” wrote one person, who found a leaflet in their driveway, in an account posted to the Washington Liberals website.
The leaflets were apparently distributed in a residential neighborhood west of Bellevue Way Northeast, near Clyde Hill Elementary School.
Other leaflets and posters distributed by groups affiliated with or sympathetic to the white supremacist views of Patriot Front have been reported in Kitsap County, on Washington’s college campuses and in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, as the far right has become increasingly visible across the U.S.
Bellevue police spokesman Seth Tyler said Sunday morning the agency is aware of social media reports of the leaflets, but had not received any complaints directly, nor did it have any information about who may have distributed them.
“It’s not the first time this has happened,” he said, recalling a couple of other of similar incidents during his 12 years as an officer in Bellevue.
There’s not much for police to do, he said, unless the material is just left on the side of the road, in which case it could be considered littering.
“As you know, the First Amendment protects any speech, no matter how offensive we may find it,” Tyler said, suggesting people throw away any unwanted materials.
A Clyde Hill police officer deferred questions about the leaflets to the department’s public information officer, who was not available until Monday.