Three people have been arrested on hate crime charges for blanketing a small upstate New York with white supremacist pamphlets, authorities said.
The racist, antisemitic literature was left at locations including a synagogue and a largely Black church in Hornell, in New York's Southern Tier, Police Chief T.J. Murray said Monday in a Facebook statement.
The May 14 shooting that killed 10 Black people about 70 miles away at a supermarket in Buffalo has underscored racist attitudes in the largely white Southern Tier region, near the Pennsylvania border. Authorities say the white gunman in that shooting drove to Buffalo from his home in the Southern Tier village of Conklin.
In Hornell, the first flyer was discovered stuck to the door of Rehoboth Deliverance Ministries as people began arriving for Sunday morning services, church member Marseena Harmonson told the Evening Tribune of Hornell. The flyer promoted the "Aryan National Army" and included a skull positioned inside a swastika.
Harmonson said church members were alarmed, especially given the recent Buffalo shooting. "And when you have children, young people, older people, they don’t know what to think," she said. "A lot of them never experienced anything like this."
Officers found similar material attached to the front of the Temple Beth-El synagogue and in other locations including driveways, doorways and a park, Murray said.
Then on Monday, police spotted two men distributing the literature, authorities said. After the officers searched their home, the two men and a woman were arrested on 115 counts each of aggravated harassment, a felony hate crime. It wasn't clear if they had attorneys who could comment on the charges.
Mayor John Buckley called the racist flyers an aberration for the close-knit community. "These are three misguided individuals who have hate in their hearts," Buckley told The New York Times. "This is something that is not reflective of Hornell."