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Man Arrested in Vermont KKK Recruitment Fliers Case

A 21-year-old man has been arrested for the distribution of KKK fliers in Vermont's largest city.

At a press conference held by Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan and Burlington Police, prosecutors announced that William Schenk, a suspected white supremacist, had been arrested.

Authorities say Schenk placed the fliers in the mailboxes of two women of color, including a Black Lives Matter activist, in the city last month.

The other woman who was targeted says she is relieved an arrest has been made.

"It was really good to feel like the community was rallying around me," said Jocellyn Harvey. "It's great to know that they caught him, and that he's not going to go to other pockets of Vermont and do recruiting or make people uncomfortable in their homes."

Earlier this week, police said they had spoken with the man who distributed the fliers. Thursday, Schenk was arrested in Morrisville. He is expected to be charged with disorderly conduct with an addtional component of a hate crime.

Police say Schenk told them he thought distributing the fliers was lawful - a form of free speech. But Donovan disagrees, saying the victims were targeted by race.

"Freedom of speech not an absolute right," said Donovan. "When you send a flier that contains the KKK and has a hooded Klansman to a person of cover, the message is one of intimidation, of hate and of violence."

Burlington's mayor agrees that free speech does not cover Schenk's alleged actions.

"You don't get to threaten people of color in this community," said Miro Weinberger. "If you do, you should expect this kind of robust marshaling of resources in response."

"We are at a new awakening in our country," said Mary Brown-Guillory of the Champlain Valley NAACP. "This is a time we should all be fighting to be more inclusive."

"This incident and others have made clear that anti-racism and cultural competency education is needed to ensure that all of our residents’ concerns are immediately addressed by authorities, especially those instigated by race, class, gender, and ability," James Haslam, the executive director of the advocacy group Rights & Democracy, said in a written statement. "Moving forward, Rights & Democracy will work with local partners to implement policy for healthy, safe, inclusive communities."

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