HORNELL, NY — Three people have been arrested on hate crime charges for covering a small town in upstate New York with white supremacist pamphlets, authorities said.
Racist and anti-Semitic literature was left at places including a synagogue and a predominantly black church in Hornell, in southern New York, Police Chief TJ Murray said in a statement on Facebook on Monday.
The May 14 shooting that killed 10 black people about 70 miles away at a Buffalo supermarket underscored racist attitudes in the largely white Southern Tier region near the Pennsylvania border. Authorities say the white shooter in that shooting traveled to Buffalo from his home in the southern village of Conklin.
In Hornell, the first flyer was discovered taped to the door of Rehoboth Deliverance Ministries as people started 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 placed inside a swastika.
Harmonson said church members were alarmed, especially given the recent Buffalo shooting. “And when you have children, young people, old people, they don’t know what to think,” she said. “A lot of them have never experienced anything like this.”
Officers found similar materials attached to the front of Temple Beth-El Synagogue and other locations including walkways, doorways and a park, Murray said.
Then on Monday, police spotted two men handing out the literature, authorities said. After officers raided their home, the two men and a woman were arrested on 115 counts each of aggravated harassment, a hate crime. It was unclear 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 with hatred in their hearts,” Buckley told The New York Times. “It’s something that does not reflect Hornell.”