Racist literature circulating in the Sugar House area of Salt Lake City may be just the start of an attack on Utah minorities, a minister representing several Utah faiths warned.
The Rev. Dr. Max E. Glenn, executive minister of Shared Ministry in Utah, was among the state and local leaders who gathered on the steps of the State Capitol Friday to reaffirm opposition to racism."It disturbs me when I see it being cast off as just a small group of people," Glenn said, warning that the distribution of "hate" materials could lead to violent action.
"We're not seeing crosses burned in front of black churches - yet," the minister said, adding that the activities should "alert us to pay attention to those they target."
Glenn was speaking on behalf of the United Methodist, Presbyterian USA, United Church of Christ, American Baptist, Christian Church Disciples of Christ and African Methodist Episcopal faiths.
Rep. Joanne Milner, D-Salt Lake, organized the hourlong event in response to racist fliers signed by the "United White Working Class" and a newsletter published by "The Church of the Creator."
The fliers, which list a Salt Lake City address, features the slogans, "White separation, white survival," and "Be proud to be white" as well as various other racist statements.
The newsletter, which lists a North Carolina address, labels itself the "Spearhead of the white racial holy war." The lead story in the February edition calls for the impeachment of President Bush.
"Minorities in the state of Utah are already in a precarious situation. We want to assure those who do live here they have the full protection of the law," Milner said.
Attorney General Paul Van Dam said he was horrified to read the racist materials. "The last thing Utah needs right now is the perception we're racist," the attorney general said.
Gov. Norm Bangerter did not attend but sent a statement read by an aide. "I will do everything within my power to ensure that all members of our diverse citizenry are treated with equality and respect," his statement read.
Salt Lake City Mayor Palmer DePaulis was also unavailable, but his chief of staff, Mike Zuhl, said the mayor hopes "we can become an Olympic city in our future and welcome the world."
The chairman of the Governor's Black Advisory Council, B. Murphy, said he was fearful of the effect of the racist materials. "I become afraid. I'm afraid these ideas threaten other freedoms," Murphy said.
He and other participants said they were concerned that the racist sentiments were being taken to heart by the young. "I pray for my children," Murphy said.
"This is not a black-white issue," he said. "This is a human rights issue. The message needs to go out that this will not be tolerated."