The Greenburgh Police Department is considering the incident on Nov. 30 involving flyers with images of the Ku Klux Klan at the Westchester Marriot not as a recruitment tool, but more than likely, some type of a hoax.
The incident is being considered “aggravated harassment” and not a hate crime, according to police. Aggravated harassment is considered a “Class A” misdemeanor.
No one has been accused or identified as suspects in hanging up the flyers, yet there is an ongoing investigation occurring, said Lt. Joseph Ryan, commanding officer of the special investigations unit at Greenburgh. He commented that the flyer may have been the act of a rival sports team.
Recruitment flyers for a KKK meeting, featuring names of three men associated with the Mercy College men’s lacrosse team as contacts, were spotted late night Nov. 30 at the hotel, which is one of four hotels that Mercy College residents dorm in. The flyer stated that a meeting would take place on Dec. 1 at the off-campus house where it is believed members of the lacrosse team reside.
The poster also stated that the meeting would continue “this great tradition of lynching negroes.”
A phone call to the head men’s lacrosse coach was not returned and players have denied comment. Athletic Director Patricia Kennedy stated that she could not comment due to the situation being an ongoing investigation, yet “all the proper measures are being taken.”
Mercy College Chief Operating Officer stated in a release to the campus community,” The college has zero tolerance for insensitive and disturbing behavior. We are working with the local authorities to investigate the incident, in addition to conducting our own internal investigation.”
Kevin Joyce, Executive Director of Student Life and Career services, issued a statement to college residents as well. “As a testament to our values, some students expressed outrage over an offensive flyer that was posted over the weekend. This speaks highly of our students. We will not stand for offensive, obscene or discriminatory materials to be communicated anywhere at our college.”
The incident sparked social media outrage over the weekend, as students flocked to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to condemn the message on the poster. One of comments on Twitter stated, “KKK meeting at Mercy College? The (expletive ) MUST cease.”
Brooke Smith, junior, social work major, told the Impact, “It is real disgusting that our school would have a group like this on campus if that was their intention. If it’s a joke, it’s not funny and whoever is resposnible should be held accountable.”
Priya Persaud, a Mercy College student said to The Impact, “This is a diverse school and a private institution. I have lived in Westchester County all my life and never thought that racism was in this area.”
A student’s name on the flyer was spelled incorrectly. One of the individuals named on the flyer was the first to contact Greenburgh Police and claimed that the three men had nothing to do with making the poster, according to Ryan.
“Class A” misdemeanor are considered the most serious of misdemeanors, and hold with it a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
The Impact became aware of the story after concerned students commented on the Theimpactnews.com and staff members noticed comments in their social feed about the incident. The initial report, that the flyer was posted in the Dobbs Ferry campus cafeteria, was incorrect.
According to the men’s lacrosse roster on the athletic website, at least two of the members of the team are not white.
New York is not known for being a place in which the KKK have a strong presence. One of the last times that the KKK tried to have a demonstration in New York City was back in October of 1999, when 18 members of the KKK attempted to hold a demonstration in United States most populated city.
Thousands showed up near the state Supreme Court to protest. Due to fear of an outbreak of violence, the New York Police Department denied the Klan a permit to demonstrate using an 1845 law that prohibited masked gatherings.
Klan leaders called it unconstitutional and challenged it. A federal district court ruled that the Klan could in fact march because members could suffer both physical and economic harm should their identities be shown publicly.
The decision was then overturned by an appellate court in favor of enforcing the 1845 law. New York Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency appeal petition supporting the Klan’s right to wear masks in public with the U.S. Supreme court, but it was denied.