TINLEY PARK, Ill. — Political, law enforcement and religious leaders in south suburban Tinley Park came together to condemn racism Sunday after fliers supporting "white pride" were left on lawns throughout the area.
A Palestinian-American himself, Jamile Jaber says he's proud of his Tinley Park neighborhood’s diversity.
"That’s why we moved here, because of the diversity," Jaber said.
Then this week, someone left fliers at homes across the area, including messages like: “white pride doesn’t mean hate. It’s ok you can say it. I’m proud to be white. There is no need to feel guilty. If that offends you, you’re racist.”
The fliers also include a phone number to an automated message from a group identifying itself as the “Loyal White Knights,” raising concerns they're linked to members of the ku klux klan.
Jaber and other neighbors are concerned the flyers were made by someone who wants to "stir up hate in the area."
Religious leaders, the police chief and the mayor all came together to condemn the literature Sunday.
“We are here today to tell you, our community, our neighbors and all of you, that it will not be tolerated in Tinley Park,” Mayor Jacob Vandenberg said.
Acting Tinley Park police chief Charles Faricelli says he’s launched an investigation, though it’s unclear what – if any – criminal charges the person responsible could face.
The fliers also prompted worries the political climate is emboldening people with racist views to voice them publicly.
“I absolutely believe we live in a moment when a lot of permission is being given for people to express hateful views and to be dissenters in the community," said Pastor Lynn Bird, Zion Lutheran Church. "They call it freedom of speech, what it really is is hatefulness and a lack of respect for other human beings.”
Still, Jamile Jaber says there’s not enough information to know the person’s motivation.
“If the undertone is like what the undertone of our president is, then yes, there is a concern for that. If it’s just someone exercising his (First) amendment rights, then go ahead, I don’t care,” Jaber said.