TRENTON, N.J. — Some residents of a northwestern New Jersey town received fliers last weekend that criticized the prospect of Democrat Barack Obama becoming the first black president. One national watchdog group said it may be the first distribution of racist fliers during the campaign.
Roxbury Mayor Tim Smith said the fliers were left at about 25 to 50 of the township's 8,000 homes. They show unflattering photos of Obama, including one that makes him look like Osama bin Laden above text that says: "Black Ruled Nations most unstable and violent in the world."
The black-and-white flier cites poverty, HIV and unemployment rates in Haiti and South Africa and says: "The United States of America will be next! Why should we seal our fate by allowing a black ruler to destroy us?"
Smith said he was sickened by what had occurred.
"It's not at all representative of our community," he said "This is a place where people take care of each other and nobody cares where you're from or what you look like."
Police Chief Mark Noll said the fliers were left in plastic bags, weighted with rocks, on lawns, driveways and in mailboxes. They are signed by the League of American Patriots, a white supremacist group with an address in Butler, N.J., about 45 minutes from Roxbury.
Telephone and e-mail messages left Tuesday for the League of American Patriots were not returned.
News of the fliers was first reported Monday by The Star-Ledger of Newark.
Noll said the incident was being investigated as a possible littering violation and not a hate crime because the group did not target certain homes.
Heidi Beirich, a director of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacist movements nationwide, said the organization has seen Internet, e-mailed threats and negative talk about Obama in the white supremacist world. The Roxbury incident was thought to be the first distribution of racist fliers during the campaign.
Obama's New Jersey campaign office also did not return a telephone call for comment Tuesday.