Screeds found at mayor's, NAACP head's homes
By MATT SANCTIS
FREMONT -- Notes containing racist writing continue to crop up in yards and driveways in several areas of the city, including at the homes of the city's mayor and the head of the local NAACP chapter, and police are asking residents for help.
Earlier this year, the Sandusky County Sheriff's Office and Fremont police received complaints from residents after letters containing hate-filled messages were found wrapped in plastic and weighted with pieces of candy. The letters, which contained an address for the National Socialist Movement, included derogatory statements about blacks, Jews and Mexicans. Fremont Police Chief Monte Huss said police officers have received 10 complaints of hate-filled messages since January, and he believes there have likely been other incidents that have not been reported.
A message left with the National Socialist Movement was not returned Thursday, and Huss declined to say whether police believe that group is involved in recent incidents. He said it is also unclear whether the notes are being dropped off by a group or an individual. Sandusky County sheriff's detective Bill Kaiser said the incidents seem to have slowed down across the county. The sheriff's office has not received a similar complaint since February, he said.
According to a report by Fremont police, Fremont Mayor Terry Overmyer discovered a letter in his driveway Wednesday. Overmyer said the letter was rolled up and stapled in a newspaper.
"They just used the newspaper for weight so they could drive by and keep going," he said.
Huss said the incidents seem to have been occurring more frequently since May.
"This type of behavior is very disturbing for a lot of people," he said.
Huss said police are investigating, but declined to provide further details. He also said police are asking residents to watch for suspicious activity and report similar incidents.
"The only way we're going to resolve these types of issues is if we all pull together, and if they see some of these acts report it immediately."
The notes found are not always the same. In one case, the letter was stapled to a flier for "Terra Tech." Another letter appeared to reference a white supremacist presidential candidate. The letters have been found on Granville Boulevard, Hayes Avenue, Croghan Street, McPherson Boulevard and James Street.
While Huss said it is not necessarily illegal to distribute the material, it can be if it threatens an individual. Several of the letters were found at the home of Dallas Leake, the president of the Fremont chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Michael Payton, executive director of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, said the issue is one he plans to discuss when he visits Fremont to speak with members of the local NAACP on Saturday. He said similar acts are a problem for the entire community, not just the individual victims.
"That has a way of isolating families and heightening friction," he said.
E-mail Matt Sanctis at firstname.lastname@example.org.