Local News

Racist fliers found in Raleigh neighborhood

Posted December 8, 2008 5:01 p.m. EST
Updated December 8, 2008 8:10 p.m. EST

— At least two Raleigh families in Raleigh's Lakestone neighborhood found racist fliers directed at President-elect Barack Obama.

Bruce Thompson's wife found the folded flier on top of their mail in their mailbox last Monday, he said.

"I don't know if it was anger as much as it was disappointment that in this day and time, somebody would put something like this in someone's mailbox," said Thompson, an Obama supporter with campaign signs still in his yard in the wooded neighborhood in inside-the-Beltline north Raleigh.

It's unclear why he received the flier or how many other people in the neighborhood also received one. Thompson said at least one other neighbor also got the flier.

"What also disappoints me is having my children exposed to it," he said. "You know, having to explain to my 8-year-old what the (racist) word means."

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said that investigators do not believe any crime was committed, because the flier contained no specific threat and that it falls under protected speech.

"The speech may be offensive, or many people may consider it to be reprehensible, but that does not make it illegal," Sughrue said.

Police, however, have sent the information and flier to state and federal agencies to review.

Dan Mihalko, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said the only law broken is one dealing with unpaid postage. That allows someone to be fined for putting mail in a mailbox without paying postage.

Since Obama was elected Nov. 4, investigators have received several reports of fliers being distributed.

On Nov. 5, in Fayetteville, police investigated Ku Klux Klan fliers found in several yards in a neighborhood there. The fliers contained no threats and appeared to be distributed randomly.

A day later, four North Carolina State University students admitted to spray painting racist graffiti directed at Obama in the university's Free Expression Tunnel, where students are encouraged to speak what is on their minds.

The Secret Service searched the students' residences and found no threat against Obama. No charges were filed.

Thompson said he is not really interested in seeing criminal punishment for whoever left the flier in his mailbox, but he wants the person to learn from his or her action.

"I think a person who would put something like this in somebody's mailbox is probably trying to scare the person," he said. "But really, they are the ones who have the fear. So, I'd like for them to realize and really look deep within themselves and realize that they don't have anything to fear."