Police promised Monday to open an investigation following complaints from residents in a Santa Ana neighborhood who awoke to find anti-Martin Luther King Jr. propaganda on their front lawns, apparently put there by a branch of the Ku Klux Klan.
A bag containing a rock, candy, a KKK business card and a flier containing anti-MLK literature — on a day set aside to celebrate the legacy of the famed civil rights leader — was found at about 40 different residences in a four-block radius, according to a statement from the Santa Ana Police Department. Police said one of the complaints came from the 2600 block of North Linwood Street.
The flier called King a "communist pervert" and urged residents not to commemorate his birthday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The business card, which had a North Carolina address and phone number, was for an organization called the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, according to multiple media reports.
On the card was written "racial purity is America's security" and "join today for your God, family, race and nation. White power," according to KTLA, which reports that it reached someone at the telephone number listed on the card.
The man reached, Robert Jones, claimed to be a leader within the organization and told KTLA that a local chapter of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK had left the bags in an effort to recruit members.
"We wanted to show the truth of who Martin Luther King was. … There’s a lot of communist ties," Jones told KTLA. "Who the media tries to portray who he is isn't who he really is."
Some residents were unsettled by the surprise deliveries.
"It seemed to me like this was an attack," Vivian Ly, of Santa Ana, told KABC-TV. Ly said she was with her younger sister when she saw it and that it was "really awful."
According to NBC4, high school teacher Michelle Gawronski, who has a young daughter, found the leaflet slanderous:
"It's offensive to adults, but it would be worse if my daughter picked it up and said, 'What does this mean, mommy?'" said Gawronski, who plans to bring the pamphlet to her class to use as a teaching moment.
Neighbor Susan Chamberlain said the people who live on Linwood Street come from all walks of life, so she was shocked to see the fliers.
"It looked like a recruitment kind of thing, saying they are angry, promoting violence if people aren't just like us," she said.
In their statement, police noted that no specific threat was made and no crime established, but added that "there will be an investigation."