For anyone who balked at U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch's comparison of North Carolina's "bathroom bill" to the racist Jim Crow laws of the previous century, consider the following: The anti-transgender legislation is now being used as an active recruitment tool for at least one Ku Klux Klan chapter in the Tar Heel state.
Flyers proclaiming "transgender is an abomination" began appearing across the small city of Foxboro this week. Printed by the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, the missives describe transgender individuals as "freaks" who "are jeopardizing the safety of bathrooms all across the nation for our women and children."
Using language that calls to mind the group's Civil Rights-era penchant for lynchings and hangings, the flyer goes on to direct anyone who is "confused" about their sexual identity, and which bathroom they should enter, to instead "use a tree out in the back yard." It then calls on concerned Roxboro residents to "join and help us stand up and boycott this abomination."
Speaking with Raleigh-based journalist Tim Pulliam, of local station ABC11, Klan representative Wayne Felker explained that "People have nothing to be scared of. We are doing the same thing the NAACP and Black Panthers and everybody else is doing. We're standing up for our race and we have that right."
Local law enforcement, however, is not taking any chances. In a statement posted to the Roxboro police department's Facebook page this week, mayor Merilyn Newell explained in no uncertain terms how the city feels:
The City of Roxboro will not tolerate any actions against citizens by groups who have a mission of racial, sexual, religious or any other kind of intimidation. While these types of groups have First Amendment protections for their recruitment or message, we stand by our city's mission to be a safe and fair place for all who choose to live here.
North Carolina has long struggled with a KKK presence, having once been deemed "Klansville, USA" for the sheer size and clout the hate group had in the state. In 1979, five people were killed during a violent altercation at an anti-Klan rally in what would become known as the "Greensboro Massacre." And while the KKK is predominantly known for racial and religious hate, this latest instance shows the rallying effect anti-transgender legislation such as HB2 can have on those already predisposed to bigotry.
Nevertheless, Roxboro police chief David Hess seems optimistic. "We have good people living in Roxboro and Person County who have the right to protection from fear and intimidation," he writes on his department's Facebook page. "We will protect that right and with the help of our good people, we will send a unified message that love is more powerful than hate."