2020-06-24

Social media post suggesting creation of South Shore KKK raises ire

by Keith Corcoran

A Lunenburg County man's supposedly satirical social media post gauging interest in creating a South Shore Ku Klux Klan (KKK) group didn't have anyone thinking it was funny.

In fact, the post on Facebook raised alarm, caused upset and an online uproar.

Bridgewater's mayor, David Mitchell, contacted his town's municipal police, given the author of post was believed to live in the jurisdiction.

Mitchell, in his own social media post, said law enforcement spoke to the man, who has no intention of setting up a KKK group. The now-deleted post was meant to be a private joke to a friend, and not to be public. But screen shots of the inflammatory material can still be seen on the internet.

"What might have only been intended as a private joke between friends is still racism and we can no longer be silent when this happens," Mitchell said. "However, we cannot reply to hate with hate, to anger with anger. We need to start and remain in a place of respect and informed dialog, educating ourselves along the way."

A former employer of the man who made the original post received so many messages it felt compelled to go public condemning him and his racist perspective. "We absolutely do not share his views in any way, shape or form," said the business, which also called for the man to remove reference of his former employ from his profile.

The Bridgewater Police Service told LighthouseNOW the man's post in itself is not criminal, however, it would be a different matter if he decided to escalate the issue and follow-through.

"We need to recognize that what we say whether it is in-person or on social media can be damaging," Mitchell added, in one of a series of Facebook posts addressing the issue.

The establishment of a Bridgewater Anti-Racism Taskforce was already in the process of being created to help bring about change to make the town a more welcoming and loving community, Mitchell said. The group met recently for the first time.

"It was a great meeting. We are excited about the change that will come and I know that this community will stand together in defiance of any person or group trying to discriminate or oppress others."

"We made a commitment to never be silent again and we will hold true to that."

Warren Kinsella, an Ontario-based author, lawyer, and political consultant, has written extensively about the damage of organized racism and hate speech. He approved of Mitchell's response to the online post.

"Mayor Mitchell is to be applauded for his opposition," Kinsella told LighthouseNOW, noting the KKK is one of the oldest and most extreme hate groups, which has history in Nova Scotia and, more broadly, Canada.

"Everyone in Nova Scotia needs to raise their voice, too, and stamp out the Klan before it takes root again," said Kinsella.

LighthouseNOW reached out to the man associated with the KKK post but received no response.

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