Milford – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman made a hastily arranged trip here Wednesday afternoon to join local officials and clergy in denouncing anonymous leafleting claiming a tie to a new group with an old name, the United Klans of America.

The officials stood in the glare of the afternoon sun to speak against whomever delivered the fliers under cover of night, stuffed in plastic bags weighted with rocks and, police believe, hastily tossed from a passing vehicle onto 42 lawns and driveways in one neighborhood and seven in another.

It is unlikely that the odd leafletting under another name would have caused the governor and lieutenant governor to speed south from Hartford to stand on the steps of City Hall, framed by white columns, joining others in stepping to a microphone to make brief statements of disgust.

Such is the historical resonance of the Ku Klux Klan, even though the new Alabama group using the Klan name has no apparent ties with a group known for racist rhetoric and violence.

Malloy said he initially questioned whether a press event only would give desired attention to someone who distributed about 50 block-watch leaflets.

“I thought at one point maybe we shouldn’t elevate this discussion any further, but it’s clear that it’s captured some people’s attention, so let’s be very clear: Klan and Klan-affiliated organizations are not welcome in Connecticut,” Malloy said.

Malloy joined Wyman, Mayor Ben Blake, Police Chief Keith Mello, Ansonia-Milford State’s Attorney Kevin D. Lawlor and others on the steps of city hall for a brief public statement to a half-dozen television news crews and a few curious onlookers.

“I think you handled this issue very well, mayor. I want to add my voice to rejecting an outside group and its repugnant approach,” Malloy said.

It was a simple message. The event was over in 10 minutes.

Mello said police have not identified who distributed the leaflets, or what is their connection to the Klan. The leaflets claimed the group was organizing a crime watch.

“You can sleep well tonight knowing the UKA is awake!” read leaflets stuffed into plastic bags weighted with rocks.

Mello said the rocks indicated to him that someone threw them from a passing car.

The Rev. Carlton Giles, a retired Norwalk police officer who lives in Milford and once served on its police commission, was among the onlookers. He said the public event was appropriate.

“I echo the sentiment of the governor. People do hear about it. It was all over the news, of course. It’s important for the leadership of the city to stake our claim, as it were, that we’re not this type of city,” said Giles, who now is the pastor of the Zion First Baptist Church of Middletown. 

Gary D. Jones, the regional director of Anti-Defamation League, said the United Klans of America is not a group with a significant membership base, but he applauded Blake and others for rapidly speaking out.

“Generally speaking, I think ADL takes the position that ignoring hate is rarely fruitful,” Jones said. “You want people to stand up.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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