Rochester Man Admits to Blanketing Pittsford and Brighton With Racist Flyers

Rochester Man Admits to Blanketing Pittsford and Brighton With Racist Flyers

Overview

By Jordan Mazza

BRIGHTON, N.Y. — A city of Rochester man who confessed to investigators that he blanketed the towns of Brighton and Pittsford with white supremacist flyers will not face charges nor have his identity released by police.

Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson said on Tuesday that a tip led police to a 32-year-old man, who admitted to distributing the “Make Rochester Great Again” leaflets on more than one occasion, under the cover of darkness, and to also maintaining a website that prominently displays its mission statement as “against European-Americans’ replacement as the U.S. majority.”

The flyers first turned up in September along Knickerbocker Road and Knollwood Drive in Pittsford. Henderson said people living along Ambassador Drive in Brighton first found the leaflets on Oct. 6.

Police said that the man in question, who police emphasize did take responsibility, stated he was trying to find like-minded people.

“The individual stated that he created the website and distributed the fliers for political purposes,” Henderson said. “He stated to the investigators that he did not mean to cause harm to anyone or cause alarm to the communities.”

Henderson said after consulting with the Monroe County District Attorney, and reviewing hate crime investigation procedures from the state DA’s Office, police determined that the flyers fall under protected free speech, and no crime has occurred.

Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle said despite that conclusion, the flyers did upset many of his constituents, and he still considers the flyers to be “hateful speech.”

“Speech of this kind, particularly speech that’s disseminated anonymously, at night, without any attribution, clearly did cause great concern in our community,” said Moehle, D-Brighton.

Pittsford Town Supervisor Bill Smith agreed.

“We reject it. We resent it. It does cause harm,” said Smith, R-Pittsford. “And we will denounce it today, and whenever it rears its head in our communities again.”

Community groups that formed in response to the flyers, like Pittsforward, also responded to the announcement.

“It was hard to hear that they have found a person, and that it’s being addressed as a political issue,” said Kendra Evans of Pittsforward. “Because this affected my family personally, this affected my town personally and it’s unfortunate that our country thinks that hate is about politics, because that is not what politics is. Whether you’re Republican, Democrat or independent, politics is about governing, and working together. It is not about exclusion, it is not about putting people down for the color of their skin, or their gender, or for any other reason that we marginalize each other. So to suggest that this is a political act, I will not accept that on a personal level.”

Some say they want to turn this into an opportunity for productive dialogue.

“We’re here,” Kevin Beckford of Pittsforward said. “We’re not going anywhere. So it’s in our interest to figure out how to work together, live together, to make America good for everyone.”