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IU, Bloomington United speak out against Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyers


IU Provost Lauren Robel and Bloomington United co-leader Rabbi Sue Silberberg both denounced the Ku Klux Klan after recruitment flyers were found Monday onthe IU campus and across Bloomington. The flyers disturbed many local residents. IDS file photo

In the aftermath of local protests against white supremacy and mass shootings across the country, Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyers found across Bloomington and the IU campus Monday left many disturbed.

Local organizations and IU officials are now determining how to move forward and address the presence of white supremacy in Bloomington. 

Rabbi Sue Silberberg is the executive director of IU Hillel and a co-leader of Bloomington United, a community organization dedicated to resisting hate. 

“I just think it’s awful to see the rise of white supremacy again and to see it out there again so blatantly,” Silberberg said. 

She said she found out about the flyers over through another member of Bloomington United.

“We’ve suffered from this in our community before, and it’s scary that it’s out there so blatantly again and that white supremacists feel empowered to be able to spread their rhetoric,” she said.

In a statement released Tuesday, Provost Lauren Robel confirmed IU groundskeepers found five flyers on North Jordan Avenue near 17th Street. 

The flyers were identical to the others found around Bloomington, which were protected by zip-close bags and featured a figure wearing a white hood as well as contact information for recruitment to a KKK neighborhood watch. 

“The Ku Klux Klan is a vile organization,” Robel said in the release. 

She condemned the flyering in the wake of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Gilroy, California. While the Gilroy shooter has not been confirmed by the FBI to have been a white supremacist, the El Paso shooter is linked to an online manifesto espousing white nationalist and anti-immigrant beliefs posted minutes before the shooting began. 

“It is particularly cruel and reprehensible that the KKK has decided that now is an opportune time to litter our community with flyers, appearing with the organization’s typical cowardice under cover of night,” Robel said in the statement. 

Robel said the university recognized the flyers could make some community members feel unsafe.

“We remain utterly committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment on our campus, and welcoming our students, faculty, and staff from around the country and the world with open arms,” she said.

Silberberg said Bloomington United is already discussing its next actions. The group is planning an event called “Bloomington United: We Are Stronger Than Hate” on Aug. 27 at the Monroe County Courthouse. 

The event will be an evening of solidarity to reaffirm that Bloomington is a caring community that rejects hate, Silberberg said.

She said the group will also be reprinting its original sign, which read, “No Hate. Not in Our Yards. Not in Our Town. Not Anywhere.” Bloomington United was found in 1998 to address white supremacist leafleting by a man who eventually murdered Korean IU graduate student Won-Joon Yoon

Silberberg said when the group was founded, hate incidents seemed relatively isolated. Now she said there is a rise in hate nationally unlike she has ever seen before. 

“We certainly are being diligent,” she said. “We will continue to address these incidences to try to fight against hate.”

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