Threatening flier: KKK: It wasn’t us
A Cape Coral City Council candidate received a threatening flier over the weekend, but the group alleged to be behind the message is denying that it came from them.
On Saturday morning, James Schneider stood in his kitchen and read the two-page printout before him. Stuck to his storm door, the rolled up papers had been brought inside as if it was a normal solicitation.
Once uncurled, though, the material was a far shot from a landscaping service offer.
“We know where you live (slur) We are going to win Quit now,” the flier read. “When you girls least expect it. We will be here for a nice visit. Like Semores (s’mores)?”
Schneider, who is vying for the District 5 seat against opponent Dave Stokes in the general election, explained that he and his husband were in shock. Then, the potential gravity of the situation hit.
“Naturally we thought, ‘Is it a joke?'” he said. “We had a few minutes of being scared.”
They immediately contacted the Cape Coral Police Department to report it.
Included in the threatening message was contact information for Emperor Paul Lamonica, of the Ku Klos Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, along with the website and P.O. Box for the KKK division.
On Thursday, Lamonica denied that his group was behind the flier.
“It was most definitely not from us,” he said via email. “I do, however, know who it was from.”
Lamonica pointed the finger at a KKK division known as the Loyal White Knights.
Imperial Wizard Chris Barker, founder of the Loyal White Knights, denied the allegation.
“We’re not behind it,” he said Thursday in a phone call. “We don’t even have a chapter in Florida.”
“We wouldn’t leave a note on somebody’s door like a coward,” Barker added.
He claimed that the act sounded more like the Ku Klos Knights’ modus operandi. He stated that last year, Lamonica’s group did something similar in Kentucky and that the group targets politicians.
“We’re more of a civil rights organization working for equal rights for whites,” Barker said.
He added that the Ku Klos Knights has a Florida group, though he did not know where.
“He (Lamonica) does have a chapter down in Florida,” Barker said.
Lamonica did not respond to additional questions via email.
Currently, the Southern Poverty Law Center has a Ku Klos Knights group listed on its “Hate Map” for Cape Coral. Center officials did not have anyone available to speak on the listing before press time.
Regardless, the CCPD confirmed that it is investigating the incident involving Schneider.
“(It) is an active/open investigation. As such, I won’t be able to get into detail at this time,” Lt. Dana Coston, spokesman for the Cape Coral Police Department, said Thursday via email.
“In this incident, the only connection to the KKK is unconfirmed claims of affiliation by the flyer’s author,” he added.
Asked about the listed group, Coston explained that a subject selling KKK memorabilia on the KKK’s website last year noted he or she lived in the Cape. He said the center marked the city because of that.
“It is my understanding that this subject is no longer listed on their site,” Coston said.
He was not aware of any Loyal White Knights’ chapter in the Cape.
“We have not had any significant incidents of organized hate groups committing criminal activity in Cape Coral,” Coston said. “The Cape Coral Police Department monitors such activity and works to protect all of our citizens from any form of criminality, including hate/bias-motivated crimes.”
After reporting the incident to police, Schneider and his husband installed an enhanced alarm and surveillance system at home. A transplant to the Cape four years ago, he had never experienced this.
“It’s really scary. They could have just as easily thrown something in our bedroom window,” Schneider said. “They came onto our property at dark.”
Police have patrolled by their home, and neighbors are keeping their outside lights on.
“They’re bothered by it, as well,” he said.
On Monday, Police Chief Dave Newlan called him. He apologized for denying the existence of the reported KKK group in a recent candidate debate because it may have given someone the idea. He told Schneider that he wanted the center to remove the Cape listing and recommended he not go public.
Police officials reported Thursday that it was standard operating procedure.
“We recommend all victims not speak to the press,” Coston said. “Doesn’t help our investigation.”
Schneider acknowledged that he briefly considered dropping out of the race. Then he spoke with his family members and decided he was going to stick with it, move on and act like nothing happened.
But the media calls started coming and he took the advice of an attorney he knows.
“I really didn’t want this to happen,” Schneider said, adding that he would have been happy running his campaign without bringing up his sexual orientation or political party – Council seats are nonpartisan.
“I’m a gay, German Jewish Democrat,” he said.
Schneider noted that the race should be about a candidate’s qualifications and platform.
“This should not have been brought up,” he said. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
While he has prepared for the worst case scenario that the threat is real, Schneider cannot help but question if the flier is a prank, perhaps by people on social media who have been taking jabs at him.
“Maybe it’s just those cyber bullies,” he said. “Maybe because I let it go, now they’re pushing it.”
Some online have even suggested that Schneider did it himself to boost his campaign.
He denied it and expressed amazement.
“I’m trying not to listen to that stuff,” Schneider said.
He encouraged others to not be afraid of hate and intimidation.
“We all know that this stuff goes on,” Schneider said. “You never expect it to come to your door.”
On Thursday, Stokes released a statement on the incident.
“In the news it was reported that my opponent received a flyer from a hate group last weekend,” he said via email. “I publicly denounce this and all hate groups and hope the Police/FBI catch and prosecute this person to the full extent of the law.”