The Associated Press reports three people are being charged with hate crimes for allegedly blanketing a small Steuben County city with white supremacist pamphlets.

Hornell Police Chief T.J. Murray posted this week on social media that the racist, anti-Semitic literature was left at locations including a synagogue and a largely Black church in the western Southern Tier community.

The May 14 mass shooting that killed 10 Black people about 70 miles away at a supermarket in Buffalo has underscored racist attitudes of some residents in the largely white Southern Tier region, near the Pennsylvania border. Authorities say the white Conklin teen accused in that shooting drove several hours to Buffalo from his home in Broome County reportedly driven by racist dogma.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

In Hornell, the first flyer was discovered stuck to the door of Rehoboth Deliverance Ministries as people began arriving for Sunday morning services. The flyer promoted the “Aryan National Army” and included a skull positioned inside a swastika.

Church member Marseena Harmonson told the Evening Tribune of Hornell that church members were alarmed, especially given the recent Buffalo shooting. “And when you have children, young people, older people, they don’t know what to think," she said. "A lot of them never experienced anything like this.”

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Chief Murray says Officers found similar material attached to the front of the Temple Beth-El synagogue and in other locations including driveways, doorways and a park.

Then on Monday, July 11, police say they saw two men distributing the literature.

After the officers searched their home, the two men and a woman were arrested on 115 counts each of aggravated harassment, a felony hate crime. It wasn't clear if they had attorneys who could comment on the charges.

In an interview with the New York Times, Hornell Mayor John Buckley called the racist flyers an aberration for the close-knit community. “These are three misguided individuals who have hate in their hearts,” “This is something that is not reflective of Hornell.” 

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