Klan Says It's Not Litter, It's Literature
(CN) - The Ku Klux Klan sued the prosecutor and sheriff of Rush County, Indiana to fight a littering citation. The Klan claims it was not littering, but distributing leaflets door to door to promote itself "as a fraternal and law abiding organization that works to uphold Christian values."
Represented by the ACLU in Indianapolis Federal Court, the Klan claims it leafleted houses door to door in neighboring Shelby and nearby Hancock Counties without any problem. But leafleting in the same way in Rush County, a sheriff's sergeant told Klansmen to pick up all the leaflets from the driveways, gave a littering ticket to the Klan leader of Indiana, and told him that he could be charged with a separate count of littering for each flyer if his members did it again.
Rush County is east-southeast of Indianapolis. Hancock County is between it and Marion County, whose seat is Indianapolis. Shelby County borders Hancock on the north.
The Klan claims that its "Indiana affiliate ... regularly places informational flyers, placed in similar plastic bags as to those that newspapers are placed in, on the property of citizens." The Klansmen leave the flyers on driveways, according to the complaint. "In order to insure that the flyers do not blow away the members will place stones in the bags to weigh them down and will tie the bags closed."
Plaintiff, the United Northern & Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, describes itself as "a patriotic, fraternal and law abiding organization that works to uphold Christian values." It says that its goal "is to unite White Christians through the bond of brotherhood and make them aware of the problems facing our country. We educate them on how and when to take action (in a non violent way). The United Northern & Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a patriotic, fraternal, law abiding organization. We are working to uphold the Christian values this country was founded on."
The Klan claims it was exercising its constitutional right to speech, not littering. It cites Indiana Code § 35-45-3-2, which, in part, defines "Refuse" as "solid and semisolid wastes, dead animals, and offal." As opposed to Klan literature.
The Klan says it does not challenge the pending trial of its Indian leader for literature, but challenges the threat to cite the Klan and its members again if they leaflet in Rush County.
It seeks declaratory judgment, an injunction and attorney's fees. It is represented by Kenneth Falk with the ACLU.
The Klan's history of terrorism, racism, lynching, anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism, anti-unionism, anti-immigration, xenophobia and cross-burning is too well known to need rehearsal here. We just thought we'd mention it.