The Lewiston Police Department has determined that a flyer circulated in several Niagara County communities in advance of this year's Peach Festival is not believed to have been generated, as suggested by the flyer's content, by the Klu Klux Klan or any organization.
In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte said investigators have determined that it is unlikely that any assembly or rally involving KKK members will take place as stated on the flyer during the Peach Festival, which starts today and runs through Sunday.
"The use of Academy Park grounds has been given to Lewiston Kiwanis for their festival and will be used solely for this purpose," Previte said. "We believe that this letter was generated by an individual(s) who has done this in the past and has their own agenda and not any organization. We have also been actively investigating threats made in reaction to this flyer and have identified two isolated individuals who are being interviewed by law enforcement. The flyer itself was reviewed by the department in consultation with the Niagara County District Attorney's Office and was determined to be covered under the First Amendment and not in violation of any existing laws."
The flyer, distributed in Lewiston neighborhoods on Tuesday, indicated that the white supremacist organization plans to have “representatives” who will “make their presence known” at the Peach Festival in Lewiston.
The flyer is reminiscent of a World War II military recruiting poster that featured a picture of Uncle Sam pointing his finger with the words: I WANT YOU!” underneath.
On the flyer, there is a picture of a hooded individual in traditional Klu Klux Klan dress and the words: “THE KKK WANTS YOU.”
In a statement posted to the Niagara County Peach Festival Facebook page, the festival sponsor, the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston, said it was taking appropriate precautions.
“Police authorities from the Town of Lewiston have made the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston aware of a flyer that was recently distributed, similar to ones sent out prior to other events in Lewiston and surrounding communities,” the statement read. “The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston have been assured the situation is being monitored by area police and as always the Niagara County Peach Festival will maintain a safe and family oriented atmosphere for attendees.”
Previte's comments came with a reminder that while an individual's beliefs or opinions may be considered by some to be vile or distasteful, it is "never" acceptable to respond to them with threats of violence.
"I want to assure everyone that we are working together with our local law enforcement partners to ensure that this event is the safe, tolerant, accepting and family environment that it has been for the past 62 years," Previte said.