A week after a mass shooting devastated the community of Hampton, antisemitic hate flyers were littered across the city in the early hours of Sunday morning, the city manager said.
Hampton City Manager Alex Cohilas said they have received approximately 227 reports of the flyers being distributed to homes and businesses in the city so far. He said that number will likely rise as they still have people calling in.
Kelob Branch says he found a flyer at the end of his driveway on West Main Street.
“A little shocked, a little hurt because it just kind of caught me off guard, because I wasn’t really expecting to wake up to that,” Branch said.
Branch describes what he read as racist, separatist propaganda. He and other neighbors, such as in the Fears Hill subdivision, described the flyer as showing the pictures of the four mass shooting victims, with text below the photos that appeared to describe the senseless killings to be motivated by one race on another. 11Alive has chosen not to share a photo of this flyer out of respect for the victims’ families.
Other versions of the flyers, as described by Cohilas, depict an antisemitic tirade along with what appears to be corn kernels inside a bag.
Another flyer distributed in the community said “White Unity” with the phrases “Defend Your Race” and “Love Your People” depicted on the flyer. A photo of those flyers was shared by a viewer with 11Alive and can be seen below:
Neighbors shared security footage of the flyers being thrown in their driveways shortly after midnight on Sunday.
Branch says it’s like reopening the wound.
“It was a little disheartening to see them use such a tragic event and such a sad thing — which, you know, may not have even been related to a motive behind what happened,” Branch said.
Some of the flyers ended up in front of businesses in downtown Hampton.
Lakeisha Gantt co-owns Welcome Home Creamery and Coffee.
“A couple of my employees— the majority of which are all high school students— went outside and decided to pick up the rest once they saw what was actually on it,” Gantt said.
Gantt said some of her customers got a scoop of hate before walking in.
“It was disappointing,” Gantt said. “And it’s not the culture here in Hampton, definitely not a representation.”
Since last weekend, the community has come together to support each other. And Gantt says the Hampton she knows will not be torn apart.
“We will not stand for this racism, racist statements, the divide that these simple flyers will cause,” Gantt said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the Hampton Police Department, is now investigating the matter. In a statement released by Cohilas Sunday night, he said in part:
“The City of Hampton is disgusted by and condemns the actions of those responsible for the distribution of these hateful leaflets throughout our city. They are in no way representative of our city, our citizens, or our values.”
Cohilas explained that authorities are using Ring doorbell cameras and other sources to help find leads and find those responsible for distributing the flyers. Cohilas added the flyers were intended to incite racial feelings and the central message “does not represent the city of Hampton, our citizens, or our values.”