Racist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant literature has occasionally appeared on the property of residents of neighborhoods in Annapolis, generating expressions of concern.
Their alarm is well-founded. The group responsible for the flyers, The National Alliance, is the largest neo-Nazi organization in the United States and has a chapter in Baltimore. The National Alliance apparently believes that Annapolis is a fertile ground for its recruitment and propaganda activities.
City law enforcement officers, as well as elected officials, have received calls from dismayed citizens demanding action. Little can be done legally, unless a crime has been committed. The distribution of literature, however vile, is protected by the Constitution. However, acts of vandalism are against the law. Those who are the victims of such offenses should call the police.
There also are ways in which citizens can respond to hate incidents like literature drops at their homes. While the first reaction of many people is to suggest that organizations like The National Alliance be ignored, this is the worst approach. Hate groups interpret silence as a sign that people quietly support their goals, and they increase their activities in the area as a result.
Residents who experience hate incidents (as opposed to crimes) are urged to notify Paul Rensted, the staff liaison to the Annapolis Human Relations Commission at (410)-263-7998 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of the Commission will be in touch with all persons who inform us that they have been targeted by a hate group.
Knowing how to respond effectively requires education. The Human Relations Commission has established a speakers bureau to brief community organizations and other groups about how to deal with hate groups. Organizations interested in receiving a presentation should contact Mr. Rensted.