Jul 10, 2013
07:55 AMConnecticut Today
Milford, Where Ku Klux Klan Group Dropped Leaflets, Has Racist Incidents in Its Past
Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register
Printed material in a plastic bag on the front lawn at 181 Herbert Avenue in Milford, Connecticut July 9, 2013.
MILFORD--A self-described Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group that leafleted a city neighborhood Monday is just the latest in a series of similar incidents over the years.
However, city residents and political leaders have met such activity with anti-racist activism.
In 2011, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced Alexander DeFelice, a city resident, to a 10-year prison term for trying to sell guns and grenades to a federal informant posing as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
The federal informant told DeFelice he was a member of the Imperial Klans of America, an active hate group, and DeFelice agreed to sell him three homemade grenades, two shotguns and a rifle. Prosecutors alleged DeFelice was a member of the Battalion 14 white supremacist group, also known as the Connecticut White Wolves. In 1999, after police arrested a city couple for harassing their biracial married neighbors, members of the Ku Klux Klan came to the city purportedly to recruit new members — they were spotted at a bowling alley and shopping at a supermarket.
The harassment of the biracial couple and appearance of hooded Klansmen spurred the Rev. Paige Bessie-Rankin of the Woodmont United Church of Christ to create a task force to combat discrimination. That group grew into the Milford Anti-Hate Task Force.
In 2004, two members of the White Wolves arrived at City Hall to talk with then-Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. and Besse-Rankin. The White Wolves were reportedly upset about how they had been portrayed in the media and wanted to remedy their image.
In 2005, two white supremacist groups demonstrated on the Green against illegal immigration. According to reports, about two dozen members of the neo-Nazi group Volksfront and the Arkansas-based White Revolution group demonstrated for three hours. A member of Volksfront told the New Haven Register they picked Milford because it’s a “liberal city.”