UPDATED: At 6:31 p.m., Corey Stewart issued a statement publicly denouncing the recent distribution of KKK literature in Prince William and Fauquier counties.
The chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate said, “I have always condemned the KKK and similar groups. There is no room in our community for these vile organizations.”
The local chapter of the NAACP, elected officials and local residents are speaking out in the wake of white-supremacist literature found in western Prince William driveways over the weekend. Five speakers at the Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday meeting even called for Board Chairman Corey Stewart to resign.
Stewart has yet to issue a public statement about the hate literature but joined the condemnation of it Wednesday, saying he has opposed the Ku Klux Klan in the strongest possible terms “since forever.”
“There’s no room for them in our community,” Stewart said in an interview July 11.
Stewart has been connected with white-supremacists in the past.
In February 2017, Stewart participated in a Charlottesville rally alongside Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of the August 2017 Unite the Right rally that resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer.
Stewart also called Wisconsin congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, a self-described “pro-white” candidate, his “personal hero” in early 2017.
Stewart has since disavowed any association Kessler and Nehlen, saying he wasn’t fully aware of their views.
More than 10 speakers at the July 11 supervisors meeting implored the board members to speak out against the racist flyers, which turned up in several residential areas in Prince William and Fauquier counties over the weekend.
“Hate has no home in Brentsville,” said resident Maggie Hansford.
“Hate has no home in any community,” Prince William NAACP President Rev. Cozy Bailey said in a prepared statement, “especially a diverse, minority-majority community like Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. We hope our elected officials send a strong statement of unity by standing with us.”
At least four of them did.
Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, issued a statement on Facebook.
It said, “This weekend, western Prince William County was targeted by hate mongers seeking to incite hatred and divide our community. I condemn these despicable acts in the strongest terms.”
Lawson noted the county supervisors voted June 26 to proclaim Prince William “a hate-free and bigot free zone.”
“There is no place for repulsive rhetoric like this in our county, commonwealth or country,” she added.
Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Marty Nohe, R-Coles, also spoke against the flyers Tuesday.
He said the literature, which included recruitment material for the Ku Klux Klan, do not represent who the community is in Prince William.
“We condemn this kind of thinking, this kind of attitude,” he said.
Supervisors Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, and Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, also denounced the flyers on Facebook.
Candland said he was "outraged and saddened" after hearing about the incident.
"These vile racist and hate-promoting organizations have no place in Prince William County, the state of Virginia, or the United States. I strongly condemn the KKK distributing flyers and emphasize that any hate or discriminatory groups are not welcome in our community."
And, said Anderson: "I condemn the reported recent actions of a KKK-affiliated group in our area. I stand with the NAACP in their call out against hate in our diverse community."
Bags containing the literature were left on driveways sometime during the overnight hours Sunday in Gainesville and in Bristow. They were weighed down with birdseed and possibly thrown from a vehicle.
The incident followed a similar one in April in Triangle. Both are under investigation.
“So we take these events very, very seriously,” Prince William Police Chief Barry Barnard told supervisors Tuesday.
Reach Jonathan Hunley at email@example.com