KKK fliers may provide lead in Davis Hillel incident

Ku Klux Klan fliers found on the U.C. Davis campus last week might lead the way to the unknown vandals who targeted Davis Hillel in May.

According to Diane Wolf, U.C. Davis Jewish studies program director, the fliers may be linked to the Hillel incident, in which the front window of the Hillel House was smashed and its Israeli flag set afire.

"Everyone assumed that the arson was linked to Palestinian forces," said Wolf, referring to warnings received by Hillel officials the day before the attack that Palestinian students might cause property damage. "Perhaps this will encourage us not to jump so quickly to conclusions."

Reports of about half a dozen fliers, attributed to the "Davis Knights of the Ku Klux Klan," were made to university police. At least one was found near the exterior of the Social Science and Humanity building.

The fliers provide photographs of four U.C. Davis ethnic studies department heads and praised them for preventing "dozens of non-whites from getting a solid education or developing any employable skills."

They call the ethnic studies department "worthless" and "non-challenging" and thank the department heads for "doing more to destroy the minority races than any 1,000 Klansmen ever could."

Although the message of the fliers does not specifically target the Jewish community, it does advocate the preservation of "the white man's rightful place of dominance over all other races."

This is the second incidence of fliers on campus attributed to the KKK. The first, in which fliers criticized U.C. Davis for its ethnically diverse student government, occurred in April.

In a statement issued to staff and administration of the university on May 31, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Robert D. Grey denounced the most recent fliers, calling them a clear violation of the U.C. Davis Principles of Community.

"The academic programs questioned in the flier meet the same rigorous academic standards required of all University of California programs of study. Moreover, the faculty cited therein are among the finest and most distinguished scholars within the system," he wrote.

Although the distribution of fliers is not itself a crime, the campus police decided to pursue a non-criminal investigation in order to try to discover the source. They currently have no leads.

Lt. Don Hopkins, public information officer for the Davis Police Department, said he did not know for certain whether a relationship existed between the fliers and the Hillel arson, which is under investigation by Davis police. But he added, "Anything is a possibility."

Meanwhile, the university police are "ensuring that the people whom the fliers were directed towards are feeling as safe as possible," said U.C. Davis Police Capt. Rita Spaur.

In addition to holding personal safety talks with the targeted individuals, a teach-in was held within the department Wednesday to dispel the fliers' message. A press conference involving all four targeted department heads was scheduled for Thursday.

Wolf, meanwhile, said the Jewish studies department stands "very much in solidarity with the ethnic studies department" and will "support them in every way" against the KKK's efforts.

But Karen Zatz, associate director of the Central Pacific region of the Anti-Defamation League, said it's unlikely that the fliers were actually created by the KKK. While it is possible that they came from someone "claiming to be KKK" or "starting up a campus KKK chapter," analysis of the April fliers showed "the KKK wasn't directly involved."

Wolf also said she was unaware of an existing campus KKK chapter and found the idea of its existence both "bizarre and horrifying."

The group itself claimed on the fliers to "remain hidden for now" out of fear of "violence against ourselves and our property by hateful non-whites."