A Virginia newspaper has come under fire from its readers after it ran a Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyer in full on its front page in late April.
The Westmoreland News ran a story on how KKK recruitment flyers and DVDs had started appearing in the town of Colonial Beach, Virginia.
However, the paper decided to include a copy of the recruitment flyer, which included racist and anti-Semitic language, in full on the front page to illustrate its story.
“They posted the whole flyer as if they were giving them free advertising,” Colonial Beach resident Betty Tate Thompson told WTVR. “It even had the number on the flyer to contact the head of the KKK. Which I thought was totally ridiculous.”
The Westmoreland News did distance themselves from the hate-group by also running a disclaimer on the front page stating: “Westmoreland News in no way condones or supports the content or message of this flyer, nor does it condone or support any branch of the Loyal White Knights, or the KKK.”
Readers were still upset with the decision, with many voicing their complaints and calling for a boycott on the paper’s official Facebook page.
“When I look into a newspaper from my community, I expect to be informed about the happenings of my local atmosphere. I don’t expect to feel threatened, belittled, and unwanted,” Facebook user J Lemar Smith wrote. “There is no problem with making the locals aware of the events surrounding these advertisements, but submitting a free advertisement on the front page is unacceptable.”
Jeremy Edouard Whitfield added: “This story could have been told without promoting these lunatics. Them and any other racially biased hate group have no business on the front page of any paper. Or any page for that matter. It is utterly ridiculous that you would print something like this without thinking of the repercussions. ”
Colonial Beach Police Chief Danny Plott was also unhappy with the paper after admitting he was the one who handed them the flyer to help cover the story, not expecting to see it on the front page.
Plott told WTVR he called the paper’s editor, Brittlynn Powell, demanding an explanation. “She explained that she wanted to put it in to show people that those of us in Colonial Beach who may think there’s not racism…I think she didn’t expect for this to blow up the way it did,” Plott said.