Another batch of hate mail arrives in Bremerton

The latest installment of inflammatory words from the white-supremacist group the National Alliance hit Bremerton driveways and car windshields Thursday, March 27.

Residents in at least six neighborhoods around the city woke to discover pamphlets and stickers in their yards that said such things as “Let’s not be cannon fodder for cowardly Jews,” and, “Earth’s most endangered species: the white race.”

It was the second such canvassing episode for the nationwide organization which has members in Bremerton.

On Feb. 24 of this year, residents of Central Kitsap Parkwood East found racist fliers with derogatory statements about black people.

“I am not quite sure how to put this,” said Ray Kleven, who found the latest propaganda about Jewish people last week at his mother’s home on Madrona Point Drive. “I retired from the Army after 22 years and one of the things I was prepared to die for was the right of people to say what they want to say; we are talking freedom of speech here. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it or support it. Racism is wrong. Period.”

Kleven said besides every American citizen’s right to free speech, as designated in the first amendment of the constitution, the people of this country should also stand up for other things, such as “basic human dignity.”

Down the block, Judy Friedberg-Nerf and her husband found a baggy containing one of the flyers in their yard too.

Judy Friedberg-Nerf, who is the block watch captain for her neighborhood, called Bremerton Police Chief Rob Forbes and told him about the unwanted refuse.

“I said, ‘it appears we have hate mail that has been distributed,’ and we wanted him to know that it was unacceptable,” she said.

Judy said she would not talk about the gravity of her dislike for the hate mail because she does not want to give the pro-white group any more exposure.

“Ignoring the event is almost better than being inflammatory back and getting in a dialogue,” she said. “By talking about it in the media we give it more broadcast power than they deserve.”

Forbes told Friedberg-Nerf that he had received numerous reports of the flyer distribution, and that he thought the language was actually constitutionally acceptable.

“It is basically a political, editorial statement,” said Sergeant Detective Jim Burchette of the Bremerton Police Department. “There is no threat involved. It is just somebody’s belief,” he said.

Added city attorney Roger Lubovich, “Whether or not it is distasteful, it is not against the law to express your beliefs.”

Forbes said there is a littering law in Bremerton, but he does not think it is applicable to this case.

“We have to identify the individual who is doing the littering. I think that is really stretching it.”

Attempts to contact the Bremerton National Alliance by the Bremerton Patriot resulted in a response from local member James Meyer. Meyer wrote in an e-mail that he had, “not been authorized by the national office in West Virginia to speak with the media.”

Friedberg-Nerf did some searching on her own at the organization’s Web site before she trashed the flyer she received. She said that something good became of the hate-mail.

She sees it as a prompt to start a dialogue within her neighborhood.

“Each of us has a responsibility if we see something that is unusual to report it,” Friedberg-Nerf said. “Just by getting to know each other, people are more willing to report unusual situations.”

Friedberg-Nerf started the Madrona Point Block Watch two years ago after she and her husband’s car was broken into in their carport. The first year they gathered together seven families to join the group. Now they have 24. They meet once every few months and correspond by e-mail in the meantime. Judy said she has had regular contact with police chief Forbes. She is dedicated to keeping unwanted guests like the National Alliance off her street.

The president of the only synagogue in town, Pam Waginski, said the best way to counteract hateful words is to speak up.

“If you don’t get your viewpoint out you are missing an opportunity to educate,” she said. “If you remain silent, then individuals only hear the other side.”

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