Officials seeking flyer information

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SANDPOINT – During the past week, another version of flyers and mailings have been distributed to businesses and residents throughout Sandpoint falsely representing the views and policies of Mayor Shelby Rognstad, according to a statement by city officials Monday.

The flyers reportedly contain false, inflammatory statements in quotes that have not been made or authorized by the mayor. In addition to the mayor, his family is also being misrepresented, the statement said. Recent versions of the flyers contain photoshopped pictures that are presented as the mayor and his family when in fact they are not, city officials said.

Residents are asked to notify the Sandpoint Police Department if they have received a flyer or have further information by calling 208-265-1482. The matter continues to be under active review, officials said.

"There is a fine line between protected free speech and criminal harassment, defamation or stalking," officials said in the statement.

Such flyers began circulating in April. One of the flyers argues African-Americans will ruin Sandpoint because of their genetic inferiorities, while another posits that Jews are behind a campaign to purge the white population through interbreeding. Other flyers target members of the task force and the local media as traitors, degenerates and liars who seek to dismantle western civilization.

Rognstad was also the target of an automated phone message during the 2016 mayoral election. The "robocall" branded Rognstad as a feminist intent on purging blue collar Caucasians in Sandpoint in favor of low-income minorities. Also, a mass email recently circulated depicting Rognstad in a Nazi gas chamber with Pepe the frog in a Nazi helmet pushing the button.

The emails come from addresses such as "@mail2idaho.com" and "@mail2world.com." The bogus flyers misrepresenting the mayor have an internet link and a smartphone barcode at the bottom directing web browsers to a YouTube video posted by a white supremacist group.

The Bonner County Human Rights Task Force held a press conference last month to push back against the rash of hate propaganda in the area.

"The real problem that we are here to address is an underlying fear of difference," Rognstad said during the conference. "It is a fear that divides us our community along racial, gender, religious and ethnic lines."

Idaho Sen. Shawn Keough and Gov. Butch Otter have also expressed their support of the community and denounced the flyers.

"I urge all of us to stand together against this hate and not allow it to fester and grow," Keough said in a statement last month, calling the flyers "unacceptable and cowardly." 

"To do nothing only emboldens those who wish to foment division and, apparently, violence."

Otter said white supremacists are not welcome in Idaho and never will be.

"Idaho joins the rest of the nation and the world in condemning white-supremacist violence and bigotry of any kind,” he said in a statement.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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