The anonymous distributor of a racist flier might have the same goal as a South Carroll group trying to stop a proposed 250-unit rental townhouse development in Eldersburg.
But the motivation is different, say the leaders.
"As soon as I got it, I threw it in the trash," said Kathleen Horneman, a neighborhood activist with South Carroll Community Coalition. "My reaction was pretty typical of everyone else. I would love to know what type of sick mind generated it, but maybe I don't want to know, because it could be one of my neighbors."
What Ms. Horneman, who is white, found in her newspaper box last week was a flier with the face of a black man, apparently Willie Horton, and the words "Folks like good old Willie Horton need affordable housing and access to decent public schools. Bad things happen when good people do nothing. Think about it."
The flier then listed the place and time for a meeting at Carrolltowne Elementary School last week during which more than 600 residents criticized county officials for allowing more growth before building schools and roads to accommodate it.
Several residents said they feared crime could follow low-income housing, although the townhouse developer said rents would range from $500 to $800 a month.
Horton is a convicted murderer who raped a Maryland woman while on furlough from a Massachusetts prison. Then-Vice President George Bush came under attack for racism when he used the case in television ads to defeat Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign.
Ms. Horneman said she and other neighbors wonder whether the flier is the work of a racist from outside the community, someone threatened by the Million Man March in Washington yesterday. "It seems so coincidental that less than a week before the Million Man March, this appeared," she said.
The Carrolltowne area had about a 2 percent black population in the 1990 census. More black families have moved in since 1990.
No blatant acts of racism have been reported in the 18 years that Virginia Harrison has lived in the area. Ms. Harrison, who is black, is chairwoman of the county's Human Relations Commission.
She said the leaders at the meeting should have decried the flier that night. "Sometimes saying nothing is just as bad as saying it's OK," she said.