What Should You Do if You Find a Racist Flyer?

Senior Southern Poverty Law Center Fellow Mark Potok tells BET.com that you should not stay silent. 

Posted: 03/02/2012 05:30 PM EST

Yet another case of racist propoganda has been identified, this time on a college campus.


Police are currently investigating the origin of racist flyers found on the campus of Delaware State University where 73 percent of the student population is African-American.


Police say the flyers showed a swastika next to a noose with a derogatory term aimed at Blacks. Just a few months ago on December 31 and January 3, the same flyers were found in a Dover neighborhood.


What should you do if you find a racist flyer in your backyard?


“Do not remain silent,” Mark Potok, editor-in-chief of the Intelligence Report and Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center tells BET.com.


According to Potok, if you if you are the victim of a hate crime or witness an assault:


Make it public

Make the incidence of your hate crime known by talking to the press, Potok suggests. “These types of events can often spark a real conversation in a community about race and related problems,” he says. “If several Klan flyers are left somewhere downtown, it’s not a bad excuse to have a discussion community wide about race.”


Contact police

“By letting the police know, you give them a heads up that there may be some real activity in the area,” Potok explains. “The police may know something you don’t; they may be able to put together something that shows a real pattern of an up-and-coming hate group in your area that may be associated with real crime.”

In addition, when contacting the police, make sure to report all details about the incident, including whether you think the assault was motivated by racism biases, for example.


If you are in emergency call 9-11

The episode at Delaware State is not the first incidence of racist flyers recently found. Earlier this week, residents in suburban Georgia found flyers featuring a drawing of a Klan member in a hood that read, “Neighborhood Watch: You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!” In addition, a few months ago, a Black baby doll was found hanging by its neck from a metal chain in the Bronx headquarters of New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department. Nearby, "KKK" was found scratched on a bathroom wall, among other reported incidents.  


“It’s critically important to report racist incidents in workplaces,” says Potok. Although the action may not be illegal it “is almost certainly actionable to make a complaint about a hostile work environment.”


If your employer does not act on the incidence, you have the opportunity to make a complaint to the EEOC.


Although there is no way to necessarily prevent hate crimes from occurring, there are ways to lesson your risk of being assaulted. The ILGA, an international human rights organization, suggests to take note of your surroundings, for example, people who are making discriminatory or racist comments, and to know the people who you are with.


In 2010, 6,624 hate crimes were reported. Of those, 47.3 percent were motivated by a racial bias, according to the FBI.


To report an incidence to your local FBI visit here.


Although Potok says that more often than not cases of racist propaganda are completely legal and are normally protected by the first amendment, that doesn’t make them right. Act on them today.


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(Photo: NBC News)

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