By Terry Duffy
It happened again.
On Thursday of this week, just ahead of the Lewiston-Porter School District budget vote and School Board elections on Tuesday, residents in the Lewiston and Youngstown communities came across yet another disturbing flyer in their mailboxes. Again it was promulgating hate and racist thoughts, but this time with the names of two Lewiston-Porter Board of Education candidates targeted.
The flyers, bearing the headline "White Schools Matter," read as follows:
"Lewiston-Porter Board of Education election
"The Aryan Resistance is proud to endorse Board of Education candidates Betty VanDenBosch-Warrick and Sarah Roat Waechter to keep Lew-Port white!
"Over the last 50 years the Lewiston-Porter Central School District has compiled (an) exemplary record of keeping its school white
"Ms. VanDenBosch and Ms. Waechter have served this cause with distinction in the past by supporting Lew-Port's white masters
"The effort to keep blacks out of your community begins by keeping them out of the classroom!
"Please support your white race by voting for Betty VanDenBosch and Sarah Waechter to the B.O.E."
Bearing the label #whitelivesmatter," the flyer ended with the message, "Brought to you locally by: The Voice of the Resistance" along with a Nazi logo and closed with a web link.
Back in late March, the Lewiston community was riled by the distribution of disturbing, racist flyers appearing in selected driveways along Mohawk Street and on River Road in the town and village.
Back then, the flyers were linked to a white supremacist identified by police as Horace Scott Lacy, originally from Texas, currently living in Niagara Falls. Lacy admitted to distributing the material. Lewiston Police at the time did not charge Lacy. LPD Chief Frank Previte described his actions as a "littering offense" and told local media the distribution of flyers was not considered a criminal act.
"(It was) nothing ... that advocates or threatens any violence of any kind," Previte said at the time.
The incident, which went on to be widely covered in the media, spurred a response from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who went on to direct the State Police to investigate it further.
Lacy was never charged and the investigation remains open.
It was uncertain Thursday as to whether the new flyers were randomly placed in mailboxes or, in fact, actually delivered to residents via the U.S. Postal Service, which would be considered a federal offense. When contacted, Previte said Lewiston police officers have received complaints from local residents and LPD was pursuing the matter.
"We're aware of it; we are looking into it," he said. Previte didn't elaborate.
The distribution brought strong responses, many on social media.
When contacted, VanDenBosch-Warrick said she and Roat Waechter were both angered by the flyer's content and intent. She described the Lew-Port School Board of Education, of which she is a former member, as a dedicated group whose only interest is in working for the betterment of Lewiston-Porter students and the community as a whole.
"We are all so friendly; we work together," she said.
Commenting on the flyers, VanDenBosch-Warrick continued, "I have spent the past month talking to the Lew-Port community about how proud I am that we have four excellent candidates running for the Lew-Port School Board. I thought we were past the flyers dropped in the dark of night, the Vanguard 'newspaper,' and the negative mailings.
"In today's mail, many members of our community received a letter from 'The Aryan Resistance' claiming to endorse myself and Sarah Roat Waechter for School Board.
"The thought of anyone connecting me or Sarah to this hate group is deeply disturbing. I emphatically denounce any group that spreads hatred and bigotry in our community. I have spoken out against racism, sexism and hate at every opportunity and will continue to do so. It saddens me that our friendly campaign has been sullied by this negativity, but trust that our community, who has seen this type of thing before, knows exactly where it came from and that it's completely false."
VanDenBosch went on to call the action "very creepy."
"The fact that there's someone so obsessed with us after all this time tells me we're doing it right," she added.
Attempts to contact Roat Waechter before The Sentinel went to press were not successful.
On Friday, the Lewiston-Porter School District released the following statement:
"Recently our school district has been exposed to a vile and defamatory flyer that not only targets two of our Board of Education candidates, but our school district and the people it serves.
"The flyer was brought to the attention of administration and the immediate response was one of disgust and condemnation. As a school district that stresses the importance of acceptance and tolerance and celebrates and embraces diversity, this material sickens us.
"We have been in contact with our school attorney and the district attorney and, should we discover the author of this filth, we will seek damages to the fullest extent of the law. Lewiston-Porter school district will not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form.
"While we wish that in this day and age that we would not have to address such a vile issue, it is clear that this ugliness is still prevalent not only in our community, but across the country. We are appreciative of the people who have reached out to us to share their thoughts and concerns. We want to assure you that this hatred will not be tolerated at our district. We will continue to foster a climate of respect, acceptance and inclusion for all and we will not stand for this. Be assured that, as a district and a community, that we will accept this challenge and hopefully come out stronger in the end."