A gay man running for City Council in Cape Coral, Fla., says he has received a threatening letter from a division of the Ku Klux Klan.
James Schneider, who is running in the fifth district in the southwest Florida city, said the letter was left at his home last weekend, rolled up and placed on his doorknob, reports the News-Press, a local paper.
It features a drawing of a hooded Klan figure and a message beginning, "We know where you live, faggot." It urges him to quit the race and adds, "When you girls least expect it, we will be here for a nice visit." It bears a website address for the Ku Klose Knights, a division of the Klan reported to be active in Cape Coral, and contact information for a Klan chapter in Tennessee. Schneider posted an image of the letter on his campaign's Facebook page.
Schneider and his husband have reported the incident to police, who are continuing to investigate, the News-Press reports. The police have yet to classify it as a hate crime, but Schneider said that's what it is.
"I'm a gay, Jewish, German man," he told the paper. "I'm running for political office. They used the term faggot. They used the term girls. These are heated, hateful words. I can't think of anything else to say, other than I believe it is hate.
"We are intelligent people. We came here to live a good life. We've lived here for four years. We've added additional surveillance with video cameras. All of our windows are locked. All of our doors are locked. All of our neighbors are leaving their lights on, because we don't know what's going to happen."
Schneider, who previously lived in Annapolis, Md., is currently planning and zoning commissioner in Cape Coral. His opponent in the council race, Dave Stokes, issued a statement condemning the letter: "In the news today it was reported that my opponent received a flyer from a hate group last weekend. I publicly denounce this and all hate groups and hope the Police/FBI catch and prosecute this person to the full extent of the law."
Additionally, several homophobic memes featuring Schneider have been posted on social media during the campaign, local TV station WZVN reports (watch below).
Richard Leon, a council member from another district, has announced a rally against hate crimes for 7 p.m. September 10, at the Yacht Club in Cape Coral. The election will be two days later.
ABC-7.com WZVN News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida