By Marek Fuchs, The New York Times
While investigating several recent appearances of racist and
anti-Semitic literature, Westchester County police came upon another,
this one arriving in their own mailboxes. Since Monday, 29 packages
of anti-Semitic and antiblack literature - photocopies of pages from
hate Web sites - have been mailed to municipal police departments in
The arrival of the packages, in manila envelopes, followed several
other events, including one in which a girl was handed a similar
batch of leaflets in Dobbs Ferry and a man in Port Chester handing
out fliers that urged whites to celebrate Black History Month by
killing black men and raping black women. The fliers also called for
the death of Hispanics, Jews and Asians.
"I don't really recall any time where there's been such a rash of
this stuff here," said John Kapica, the chief of the Greenburgh
Police Department, which received a package with a return address
from the Concerned Citizens of Westchester, the 's' in citizens
After the mailings and leafleting, county authorities were busy
drawing a line between a reprehensible distribution of written
material and a criminal one, even as they scrambled to find the
source or sources.
"All these events affect the whole calm of a community," said
Jeanine F. Pirro, the Westchester County district attorney. "Groups
start to look at each other in fear, anger and hatred, which can lead
to violence, which can lead to retribution."
Andrew J. Spano, the county executive, added, "It's the kind of
stuff that you have to do something about or it metastasizes."
The recent handing out of leaflets in Port Chester constituted
felonies, Mrs. Pirro said, because the fliers involved direct threats
against people based on race. Her office's bias bureau is working
with the Port Chester police to identify the man who gave them out.
One witness described him as wearing a cowboy hat.
"It was a crime, period, end of story," said Mrs. Pirro, who plans
to charge the man with aggravated harassment, buttressed up to a
Class E felony, carrying a potential sentence of four years in prison
The material sent to the police - rants about blacks, Jews and the
Anti-Defamation League, all printed from various racist Web sites -
did not contain a call to action and thus was not criminal, Mrs.
Pirro said. "Hateful, vile and repulsive, but not criminal," she
The focus on the Anti-Defamation League, in a large portion of the
material sent to the police, might stem from the league's involvement
in training the county police recently on how to track racist groups
online, said Joel Levy, its New York regional director.
Municipalities, in turn, receive police training through the county,
but Mr. Levy also said the anger at the Anti-Defamation League might
have to do with its frequently stated concern recently that the movie
"The Passion of the Christ'' could lead to increased anti-Semitism.
The timing of the mailings, shortly after the training, raised the
question of whether the literature could have been sent to the police
by one of their own. Mrs. Pirro was dismissive of the idea of police
involvement, but she said an investigation was continuing.
Mrs. Pirro said the scope and serious of such incidents go beyond
their numbers. "First, they are underreported," she said. "Also, the
statistics do not reflect the ripple effect this has on the whole
community, the fear factor."
That, along with Mrs. Pirro's suspicion that even noncriminal
distribution of material that attacks minority groups can lead to
more nefarious levels of activity down the road, is the reason her
office is now looking for all the disseminators of the recent
material, even those who sent the legal packages to the police.
"People who spew this type of hate often cross the line," Mrs. Pirro
said. "And when they do, we obviously want to be there to greet