Havre City Council meeting saw its biggest audience in a long time Monday night as community members showed up to voice concerns about the United Klans of America flyers that were distributed around town over the weekend.
The flyers read “Neighborhood Watch: You can sleep well tonight knowing the UKA is awake!” A telephone number and website were listed at the bottom of the flyer and the UKA emblem stood at the top.
The flyers were distributed in some Havre neighborhoods over the weekend, placed in residents’ yards in a Ziploc bag along with a rock to keep it from blowing away.
Mark Azure, the president of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation tribal council, along with others from the reservation, voiced concerns about the tribal members who live in Havre being safe.
“I would hope you guys would take some time to look into this and maybe at your next meeting, let the public know,” Azure said.
Azure said a tribal member found one of the flyers in their yard and was afraid.
Mayor Tim Solomon assured him the flyers were placed at homes all over town.
“It is a case that the police are looking into,” Solomon said.
Havre resident Amber Wells said she was looking into the matter of the flyers around town. She said she had found people in town who have links to UKA organizers in Georgia.
“Many people who have not received flyers believe this is a high school prank or a joke,” Wells said. She then cited an article in USA Today in July about the UKA distributing flyers in other states.
Wells said that through her making a stand on the Internet, she has made herself a target.
“Our community is not so safe and we are not happy,” Wells said. “ … I am hoping, and beseeching, that you please find a way to calm and comfort your community because things that happened in Ferguson, Missouri, could happen here.”
Wells requested a statement from City Council about the matter.
Solomon said the police are making an investigation into the matter, but they only received one official complaint about the flyers.
Several audience members said they made calls to the police, but were told that it was being taken care of and to throw the flyers away.
Ward 2 Councilperson Janet Trethewey suggested that anyone who lives in a neighborhood that does not have a Neighborhood Watch should start one.
“I am shaken and sad that this has happened,” Trethewey said.
Ward 4 Councilperson Andrew Brekke said communication is the most important factor in the situation.
“We condemn those kinds of thoughts and actions,” Brekke said. “That kind of speech and activity will not be tolerated here.”
Brekke said the city will try to take care of the situation and people need to contact the police department if they experience anything new with the situation.
He said if the dispatcher turns them away, they need to contact the mayor’s office or someone on the council.
“Be vigilant. Be watchful,” Brekke said. “As a community, we will get through this.”