A flyer disseminated in Independence claims a group “like the KKK or neo-Nazis” is coming to town.
The flyer contains two swastikas and lists phone numbers of multiple media outlets, the mayor’s office and an event venue in town where the group had made a reservation.
The flyer states that the group involved in a Saturday event in Independence, the Asatrú Folk Assembly, “believes and advocates white supremacy.”
Angela Krout owns a pagan store, Mojo Mamas on South Main Street in Independence, and she arranged for the event, which was billed as a book-signing by author Bryan Wilton. Wilton writes about Asatrú and is a member of the AFA, according to its website.
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Krout sold about 100 tickets to the event, which was to be held at the Cotillion Room and Garden, an entertainment venue in town off U.S. 40.
But when word of the flyer and its allegations spread to management at the Cotillion, as well as pressure from community members to cancel the event or face protests, the Cotillion canceled Krout’s reservation.
Marietta Williams, a pagan leader in the KC area, told The Star that Wilton’s affiliation with the AFA, and questionable comments he’s made in the past, galvanized local pagan groups to distance themselves from the AFA and Wilton, and to pressure Cotillion to cancel Krout’s reservation.
Before being banned from Facebook, according to Heathens United Against Racism group, AFA’s posts included statements about supporting “traditional” families and arguments that seem to espouse white exceptionalism.
“The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children,” one post reads.
“People want to say Hitler did it because he hated the Jews,” Wilton says in the video. “Hitler did it because he loved his country.”
The AFA and its members use coded language to obscure more racist ideologies, Williams said.
Krout said she was incredulous by the venue’s cancellation and the allegations.
“It’s because we’re pagan, we’re different,” she said. “I have people of all different faiths, races, gender identities (shop at my store). ... Calling me a Nazi is really rather laughable. My customers, friends, family are just as much in shock as I am.”
Krout did acknowledge that some self-described pagans hold racist and sexist viewpoints, but that such viewpoints aren’t held by every pagan.
Cotillion management issued a statement defending its decision to cancel Krout’s reservation, saying it was made for “security issues, the risk of protests and veiled threats.”
“The Cotillion is making no form of political statement,” the company said. “The decision ... is based solely upon the safety and security of their property and those who benefit from its use.”
Asatrú was named by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1998 as a new “fad” among white supremacists. The SPLC said then that Asatrú was related to Odinism. Today, some white supremacists call Odinism their religion, according to Public Radio International.
In 2016, Krout said she was given the community service award during the Kansas City Pagan Pride Day.
Williams confirmed Krout won the award.
“I don’t believe that Angela Krout is innately racist or homophobic,” Williams said. “ I want to believe, as a member of community, she promotes the same values we do: safety, positivity, inclusion and education. The problem is that she is funding and hosting this event, and the money from this event is going back to help her, her shop and her religious group.”
As for the event with Wilton, Krout said she will relocate but she isn’t sure where to.
“Whatever we do, we’ll keep it to just the people coming in the know, keep crowd control so we can make sure nobody gets hurt,” she said.
The incident is reminiscent of a feud in Greenwood earlier this year, which likely motivated another swastika-laced flyer to be disseminated in a community.