Archive for the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ Category

KU KLUX KLAN | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State …

Ku Klux Klan parading, Beaumont, November 10,1922. Courtesy Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, Beaumont.

KU KLUX KLAN. The history of the Ku Klux Klan in Texas extends from the Reconstruction era to the present. The original organization was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee, probably in May or early June 1866, by six young Confederate veterans. Its name reportedly derived from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle or band; “Klan,” though redundant, was appended to the name for alliteration. The Klan’s founders devised a series of elaborate secret rituals for the organization, closely patterned after the Kuklos Adelphon, a college fraternity widespread throughout the South in the antebellum period. Officers consisted of a “grand cyclops” or president, a “grand magi” (plural sic) or vice president, a “grand Turk” or marshal, and a “grand exchequer” (sic) or treasurer. Local chapters were called dens. In its early years the Klan’s regalia included a white mask with holes for the eyes, a high, conical, cardboard hat, and long flowing robes. Initially the organization existed solely for amusement, but as it spread through the Southern states it became more and more associated with vigilantism and opposition to Republican rule. By the late 1860s the Klan became one of the principal forms of opposition to Reconstruction, and members were pledged to support the supremacy of the white race, to oppose the amalgamation of the races, to resist the social and political encroachment of carpetbaggers, and to restore white control of the government.

The Klan of the Reconstruction era was not a single organization or even a loose confederation of local and state groups. Several different Klan-like organizations with different relationships to each other coexisted in various parts of the South; they included the Knights of the Red Hand, the Pale Faces, the White Brotherhood, the Constitutional Union Guards, and, in Texas, the Knights of the Rising Sun and the Knights of the White Camellia. Evidence that the Klan had spread to Texas was first noted in March 1868. At first the group’s activities consisted of parades, publications of cryptic newspaper notices, and midnight meetings at graveyards. Republican newspapers satirized these happenings, but by May, when the Klan began to resort to murder and acts of intimidation directed at freedmen and white Republicans, the light-hearted notices ended.

Despite its outward appearance of unity, the Klan in Texas was in many ways poorly organized. Roger Q. Mills, a former secessionist and later a congressman, coordinated activities in the state, but often the local groups acted autonomously with little or no central direction. Members of every social stratum belonged to the Klan, though the more respectable elite usually shied away from acts of violence. Local groups of the Klan or bands posing as Klansmen sometimes used terrorist acts such as stealing horses or burning crops merely to gain economic advantage, but most of their victims were Republicans. Generally, Klan violence closely followed politics.

Most of the Klan’s activities were focused in Northeast Texas, and at least twenty counties, extending from Houston north to the Red River, experienced some form of Klan terror. In Trinity County in 1868, for example, disguised bands killed several freedmen, forced most of the black voters to register as Democrats, and intimidated federal officials. A local Republican wrote, “Anyone in this community opposed to the Grand Cyclops and his imps is in danger of his life.” In Gilmer, Canton, Quitman, Boston, Marshall, and other towns of the region, civil authorities were similarly powerless to control Klan violence. Among the centers of Klan activity in the state was Jefferson and surrounding Marion County, where the small federal garrison under the command of Maj. James Curtis could do little to stem the terror. In October 1868 a band of Klan vigilantes killed George W. Smithqv, leader of the local Republicans, and a number of his black followers; for the next two months bands rode through the countryside burning houses and crops and beating and intimidating terrified blacks.

By late 1868, however, authorities began to gain the upper hand throughout the state. Between October 1868 and September 1869 fifty-nine cases were tried before military courts in Texas, resulting in twenty-nine convictions. In 1870, Republican governor Edmund J. Davis called on the legislature to form a State Police and a militia, and the measures were passed in June and July. The following year the legislature passed another law making it illegal to be armed and disguised. The Texas Klan began to wane in 1869. In March of that year, the chief executive, or “grand wizard,” proclaimed a disbanding of the group. Many of the local chapters followed the lead of the statewide organization, but isolated pockets of Klan activity were still observable in the early 1870s. On June 8, 1870, the Daily State Journal, a Radical Republican newspaper, reported that a Klan parade had been held in McKinney, and in July 1871 the same paper reported that masked men had beaten a white teacher of a black school in Bastrop. Such incidents, however, became less common after mid-1870, and the organization in general ceased to exist after Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Act of April 1871, which permitted the president of the United States to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in cases of secret conspiracy. Although federal efforts played a role in the dissolving the Klan, just as important was the growing reluctance of the Southern white leadership to tolerate violence.

Around the time of World War I a new Ku Klux Klan, patterned after the original one, made its appearance. The resurgent group began in Georgia, where William J. Simmons dedicated it at a cross-burning on Stone Mountain on Thanksgiving eve, 1915. The success of D. W. Griffith’s epic film of the same year, Birth of a Nation, based on Thomas Dixon’s novel The Clansman (1905), with its vivid portrayals of Radical Republican excesses, had helped to fan the flames of racial animosity, which had smoldered since Reconstruction. Also fueling the fire was a growing American nativist movement with its concomitant distrust of Catholics, Jews, African Americans, and other “foreign” elements. At first the new Klan grew slowly, but in the aftermath of World War I, the organization spread rapidly, not only in the South and Southwest, but also through the Midwest and to both coasts. At its height in the early 1920s the new Klan boasted some two million members. As before, its members or those posing as Klansmen perpetrated acts of violence, and although atrocities were committed across the nation, they were generally concentrated in the South. Some Texans were receptive to the Klan’s angry and insular message, and by the early 1920s membership in the state organization numbered in the tens of thousands. Hooded legions paraded in Texas cities and towns, and cross-burnings, intended to show the power of the “invisible empire,” became all too common.

The revived Klan’s main public appeal was as a fraternal lodge, a refuge for white, Protestant America. It promised to reform politics, to enforce prohibition, and to champion traditional morality. The preponderance of the membership was concentrated in small towns, but the organization also spread to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and the other large cities. Members were drawn from all sectors of society, and many civic leaders, politicians, and law-enforcement officials either belonged or deferred to the Klan. Many officials, however, opposed it. When Waco Klan No. 33 tried to march in the small Central Texas town of Lorena, the sheriff of McLennan County tried to stop the demonstration, touching off a riot in which several people were wounded and one man stabbed to death. The growing violence attributed to the Klan caused wide resentment, and by 1922 a number of anti-Klan organizations had formed across the state. Recognizing the threat to the organization’s growth, Dallas dentist Hiram Wesley Evans, who was elected “imperial wizard,” or national leader, at the organization’s first national convention in November 1922, sought to reform the Klan and to change its image. He placed strict controls on local groups, which were, for instance, no longer allowed to wear Klan regalia except at Klan-sponsored events, and sought to extend Klan power by working to have members elected to important political posts.

The strategy was especially successful in Texas. With a membership of perhaps as many as 100,000, the Klan used its united voting block to elect state legislators, sheriffs, judges, and other local and state officials. Its greatest success, however, was in securing the election of Earle Bradford Mayfield to the United States Senate in 1922. The following year the Klan established firm control of city governments in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Wichita Falls, and the order probably had a majority in the House of Representatives of the Thirty-eighth Texas Legislature, which met in January. By the end of 1922 the paid membership swelled to as many as 150,000, and Kluxers looked forward to even greater triumphs. The year 1923, however, was the high-water mark for the Klan. Its candidate for governor, Felix D. Robertson, a member of the Dallas Klan, was defeated in 1924 by Ma (Miriam Amanda) Ferguson, and dissension within the organization and growing anti-Klan sentiment combined to weaken its influence greatly. By 1928 the membership had declined to around 2,500, and most prominent supporters had left the fold. During the Great Depression, Klan strength waned even further. The fraternity continued its attack on blacks, Jews, and Catholics, but added New Deal politicians and labor organizers to its list of enemies. In 1939 Evans sold ownership of the Klan to James A. Colescott, a veterinarian from Terre Haute, Indiana, but Colescott was soon forced to dissolve the organization because of problems with back taxes and protests over the Klan’s association with the German-American Bund.

After World War II the Klan became increasingly fragmented. During the civil-rights era of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Klan activity in Texas again increased, but because of new anti-Klan laws and FBI pressure, the organization remained small and politically impotent. Subsequently, the Klan fractured into numerous small cells. Among the largest of the Klan groups are the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Camellia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, but there are also others, each with its own outlook and agenda and a hatred of competing groups. During the early 1980s the Klan gained new notoriety for its attacks on Vietnamese shrimpers along the Gulf Coast (see SHRIMPING INDUSTRY), and in the early 1990s it was again in the news because of assaults on black residents in Vidor. In the waning years of the twentieth century various Klan groups forged links with skinheads and other neo-Nazis and, despite numerous legal actions, continued to be an irritant in the state.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Charles C. Alexander, Crusade for Conformity: The Ku Klux Klan in Texas, 19201930 (Houston: Texas Gulf Coast Historical Association, 1962). Charles C. Alexander, The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1965). Linda Elaine Kilgore, The Ku Klux Klan and the Press in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1964). Shawn Lay, War, Revolution, and the Ku Klux Klan: A Study of Intolerance in a Border City (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1985). Allen W. Trelease, White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction (New York: Harper and Row, 1971). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. “Westward,” Dallas Times Herald, March 31, 1985.

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Ku Klux Klan official confirms recruiting in SF – SFGate

Photo: Mike Stewart, Associated Press

The Ku Klux Klans Will Quigg of Anaheim (center) at a rally in April. He said his organization is a new Klan that does not condone violence.

The Ku Klux Klans Will Quigg of Anaheim (center) at a rally in April. He said his organization is a new Klan that does not condone violence.

Ku Klux Klan official confirms recruiting in SF

The Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyer that sparked outrage in San Franciscos Haight neighborhood this week was legitimate, a Klan official said Thursday, adding that the organization had recently received a surge in interest amid police shootings and protests.

On Tuesday, neighborhood news outlet Hoodline posted a picture of the flyer, which was reportedly being distributed around Haight and Clayton and Oak and Lyon streets.

Will Quigg, grand dragon of the KKKs West Coast region, said the picture showed one of the pamphlets that members tend to leave in driveways.

Our organization is actively recruiting in all of California and all of the United States, Quigg said. Were getting a lot more calls, especially in the last few months with what Obamas doing, what Hillarys doing and especially Black Lives Matter calling for war and saying theyre trying to kill all whites.

The recruitment flyer stated Black Lives Matter Black Panthers are telling followers to kill white people and police officers in the name of justice for the killing of Negros by policemen in the line of duty. These Negros were not innocent, they were thugs breaking the law, and standing up against police.

It appeared the message was meant to incite fear of the Black Lives Matter movement, capitalizing on rising racial tensions since last weeks killings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the slayings of five police officers in Dallas.

San Francisco NAACP President Amos Brown said the countrys strained race relations was not a result of Black Lives Matter but instead came from the rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Donald Trump ought to be ashamed of himself, Brown said. He is the one out of his self-centered interest who has created this climate.

Brown said the KKK flyers were not surprising given the current atmosphere.

Its time, as one theologian said, that people stop their silence, Brown said. Silence does give consent to evil, and the Ku Klux Klan is evil. The Klan took a sacred symbol of Christianity to terrorize black people. The terror of the Klan emerged in Pulaski, Tenn., to disenfranchise blacks and to keep them from having equality of opportunity, justice and equality.

Quigg, however, insists the organization is a new Klan that doesnt condone violence and only passively recruits by leaving flyers in neighborhoods.

We do not go knocking on peoples doors. We dont do that type of recruitment because we dont want to make any people feel uneasy or scared because they do not understand we are a new Klan, he said. We are a white, Christian, nonviolent civil rights organization.

Jenna Lyons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jlyons@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @JennaJourno

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Georgia’s high court rules in favor of Ku Klux Klan in …

ATLANTA Dismissing an appeal on a technicality, Georgia’s highest court granted a victory to a Ku Klux Klan group that has been seeking for years to participate in a highway cleanup program.

The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the state’s appeal of a lower court decision that the state had violated the KKK group’s free speech rights. The Department of Transportation filed its appeal incorrectly, leaving the high court without authority to consider its merits, the opinion said.

The state attorney general’s office, which represents the department, is reviewing the decision and considering its options, spokesman Nicholas Genesi said in an email.

The north Georgia KKK group applied to join the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program in May 2012, hoping to pick up litter along part of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains. The program was started in 1989 to get volunteers to clean up sections of roads in the state. In exchange, the Department of Transportation posts a sponsorship sign along the road with the program logo and the volunteer group’s name.

The state Department of Transportation, which runs the program, denied the KKK group’s application, saying its program was aimed at “civic-minded organizations in good standing” and citing what it called the KKK’s “long-rooted history of civil disturbance” and the “potential for social unrest.”

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation sued on behalf of the KKK group in September 2012, arguing that the state violated the group’s right to free speech.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua agreed and ruled in the group’s favor in November 2014, saying the KKK’s group’s application was treated differently than others and that “viewpoint-based discrimination” is not allowed under the Georgia Constitution.

The state appealed, arguing that the KKK group’s arguments were barred by the principle of sovereign immunity, which shields the state and its agencies from being sued in their official capacity unless the General Assembly waives that protection.

The Department of Transportation didn’t have an automatic right to appeal in this case and failed to file a necessary application to appeal, leaving the high court without jurisdiction and with no choice but to dismiss the appeal, the opinion says.

Alan Begner, an attorney for the KKK group, said they are considering the ruling a victory, though he and his clients would have liked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the underlying issue of sovereign immunity in cases of constitutional challenges to government actions.

It’s not entirely clear what happens next.

The Department of Transportation adopted a moratorium on allowing any new participants in the highway cleanup program shortly after it denied the KKK group’s request. In her original ruling, LaGrua had dismissed the KKK group’s request to order the state to allow it to participate in the program. Begner said he needs to talk to the ACLU and his clients about possible next steps.

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Ku Klux Klan dream of a U.S comeback as group marks 150 years …

Despite plummeting from millions of racist members in the 1920s to thousands today, the Ku Klux Klan is attempting to restore itself to the force it once was.

As it marks 150 years, the fascist group is looking to raise its hooded head once more and with the development in online communications, spreading the word has never been easier.

Prospective white supremacy members can fill in forms online to join and can get their hands on the infamous white robes for $145, or upgrade from cotton to satin for $165 – under one condition – they are white and Christian.

Klan leaflets are appearing in suburban neighborhoods all the way from the Deep South to the Northwest, there are still thousands of members actively involved and with immigration a hot topic in the U.S. presidency race, the Klan believe it is their time to shine once more.

As recently as April, the KKK met in Georgia, chanting, ‘Death to the ungodly!’, ‘Death to our enemies!’ and ‘White power!’ as they burned crosses and carried out the rituals their murdering forefathers carried out decades ago.

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Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months

Today’s members of the KKK dream of restoring the fascist movement to what it once was – an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society

Masked and hooded: New members can purchase the infamous cotton white robes online for $145 or a satin version costs $165

Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s.

Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against black people.

But today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society.

As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era.

Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months.

Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength.

‘We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer,’ said Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi.

In a series of interviews, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation.

Stopping or limiting immigration – a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s – is more of a cause than ever.

And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office, though few would provide numbers.

Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form – provided you’re white and Christian.

Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan’s trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version.

While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent.

Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings.

‘While today’s Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the `60s,’ said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist.

‘That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,’ he added.

Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings

Historian David Cunningham, author of ‘Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan,’ notes that while the Klan generally doesn’t openly advocate violence, ‘I do think we have the sort of “other” model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas.’

Klan leaders admitted most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s robes in colors other than white.

So-called ‘traditional’ Klan groups avoid public displays and practice rituals dating back a century while others post web videos dedicated to preaching against racial diversity and warning of a coming ‘white genocide’.

Women are voting members in some groups, but not in others.

Some leaders will not speak openly with the media but others do, articulating ambitious plans that include quietly building political strength.

Some groups hold annual conventions, just like civic clubs, where members gather in meeting rooms to discuss strategies that include electing Klan members to local political offices and recruiting new blood through the internet.

It’s impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups don’t reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns.

Waller said his group is growing, as did Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina.

‘Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonald’s,’ Barker said.

As for his Klavern, he said, ‘Right now, I’m close to 3,800 members in my group alone.’

The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barker’s Loyal White Knights as the most active Klan group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members total.

The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000.

The Alabama-based SPLC says there’s no evidence the Klan is returning to the strength of its heyday.

It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s.

It is estimated the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated two to five million members in the 1920s

‘The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the 20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,’ Potok said.

Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers.

But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed.

Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy.

Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died.

The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected.

It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s.

Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers.

The KKK grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere encouraged millions to join, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers.

A hooded man (left) displays a hangman’s noose dangling from an automobile as a warning for black people to stay away from voting places in the municipal primary election at Miami but in spite of the threats, 616 voted; Pictured right two young boys raise their arms as a white power T-shirt is held in front of them during a Klan rally held near Benson, N.C in 1980

Members of the Ku Klux Klan, wearing traditional white hoods and robes, stand back and watch with their arms crossed after burning a 15-foot cross at Tampa, Fla, in 1939

That momentum declined, and best estimates place Klan membership at about 40,000 by the mid-’60s, the height of the civil rights movement.

Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963.

Cunningham, the historian, said the Klan dwindled to nearly nothing during the 1970s and `80s, when the SPLC sued the Alabama-based United Klans of America over the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man whose beaten, slashed body was hanged from a tree.

In an odd twist, Donald’s mother wound up with the title to the Klan’s headquarters near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because the group didn’t have the money to pay the $7 million judgment awarded in the SPLC suit.

KKK leader Brent Waller was raised in Laurel, Mississippi, in the shadow of the civil rights-era Klan.

He has boyhood memories of flaming crosses and of Sam Bowers, a Klan boss who served six years in prison for his role directing the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, and who later was convicted of killing a civil rights leader in 1966.

Rather than a white robe, Waller, 47, wears a snow-white suit and orange tie when in public on Klan business and insists on donning sunglasses in photos to protect his identity.

The new breed: A member of the Ku Klux Klan uses a mobile device during cross burnings after a ‘white pride’ rally in rural Paulding County near Cedar Town (left) whileBrent Waller, Mississippi grand dragon and spokesman for the Tennessee-based imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi poses for a photograph

A man with a Nazi swastika tattooed across his shoulderblade walks during a protest at Stone Mountain Park, in Stone Mountain, Ga

Stopping immigration, not blocking minority rights, is the Klan’s number one issue today, Waller said.

His group operates by the KKK rulebook called the ‘Kloran,’ which was first published in 1915.

Various versions of the book are now online, and an edition posted by the University of Wisconsin library states in part: ‘We shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy and will strenuously oppose any compromise thereof in any and all things.’

The current hot-button issue for Klan members – fighting immigration and closing U.S. borders – is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election.

Klan leaders say Donald Trump’s immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs things are going their way.

‘You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall,’ Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said.

Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name.

It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity.

‘There is a lot of baggage with the name,’ said Rachel Pendergraft, Robb’s daughter, who leads the group with him.

‘You say the name “KKK” and a lot of people have a narrative in their minds of what it is about, what it does. The name resonates with people, whether it is good or whether it is bad.’

Despite trying to rebrand itself in many ways, 150 years later, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses, though it rarely does so in public.

Instead, the ‘lightings,’ as members call them, are held on private property away from law enforcement and demonstrators.

In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia.

As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire.

‘White power!’ they chanted in unison.

‘Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!’

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At 150, KKK sees opportunities in US political trends

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence.

Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible white supremacist empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era

Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength.

“We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer,” said Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi.

In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office, though few would provide numbers.

Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form provided you’re white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan’s trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version.

While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison years after the fact for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings.

“While today’s Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the ’60s,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist. “That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,” he added.

Historian David Cunningham, author of “Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan,” notes that while the Klan generally doesn’t openly advocate violence, “I do think we have the sort of ‘other’ model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas.”

Klan leaders told the AP that most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s trademark robes in colors other than white.

So-called “traditional” Klan groups avoid public displays and practice rituals dating back a century; others post web videos dedicated to preaching against racial diversity and warning of a coming “white genocide.” Women are voting members in some groups, but not in others. Some leaders will not speak openly with the media but others do, articulating ambitious plans that include quietly building political strength.

Some groups hold annual conventions, just like civic clubs. Members gather in meeting rooms to discuss strategies that include electing Klan members to local political offices and recruiting new blood through the internet.

It’s impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups don’t reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns. Waller said his group is growing, as did Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina.

“Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonald’s,” Barker said. As for his Klavern, he said, “Right now, I’m close to 3,800 members in my group alone.”

The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barker’s Loyal White Knights as the most active Klan group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members total. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000.

The Alabama-based SPLC says there’s no evidence the Klan is returning to the strength of its heyday. It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s.

“The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the ’20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,” Potok said.

Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died.

The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected. It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers.

That momentum declined, and best estimates place Klan membership at about 40,000 by the mid-’60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963.

Cunningham, the historian, said the Klan dwindled to nearly nothing during the 1970s and ’80s, when the SPLC sued the Alabama-based United Klans of America over the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man whose beaten, slashed body was hanged from a tree. In an odd twist, Donald’s mother wound up with the title to the Klan’s headquarters near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because the group didn’t have the money to pay the $7 million judgment awarded in the SPLC suit.

KKK leader Brent Waller was raised in Laurel, Mississippi, in the shadow of the civil rights-era Klan. He has boyhood memories of flaming crosses and of Sam Bowers, a Klan boss who served six years in prison for his role directing the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, and who later was convicted of killing a civil rights leader in 1966.

Rather than a white robe, Waller, 47, wears a snow-white suit and orange tie when in public on Klan business and insists on donning sunglasses in photos to protect his identity.

Stopping immigration, not blocking minority rights, is the Klan’s No. 1 issue today, Waller said. His group operates by the KKK rulebook called the “Kloran,” which was first published in 1915. Various versions of the book are now online, and an edition posted by the University of Wisconsin library states in part: “We shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy and will strenuously oppose any compromise thereof in any and all things.”

The current hot-button issue for Klan members fighting immigration and closing U.S. borders is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election. Klan leaders say Donald Trump’s immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs things are going their way.

“You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall,” Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said.

Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name. It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity.

“There is a lot of baggage with the name,” said Rachel Pendergraft, Robb’s daughter, who leads the group with him. “You say the name ‘KKK’ and a lot of people have a narrative in their minds of what it is about, what it does. The name resonates with people, whether it is good or whether it is bad.”

Despite trying to rebrand itself in many ways, 150 years later, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses, though it rarely does so in public. Instead, the “lightings,” as members call them, are held on private property away from law enforcement and demonstrators.

In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia. As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire.

“White power!” they chanted in unison.

“Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!”

___

Associated Press writer Ryan Phillips in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and AP photographer Mike Stewart in Rome, Georgia, contributed to this report.

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At 150, KKK sees opportunities in US political trends

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Ku Klux Klan dreams of rising again 150 years after founding

The Associated Press In this Saturday, April 23, 2016 photo, members of the Ku Klux Klan participate in cross burnings after a “white pride” rally in rural Paulding County near Cedar Town, Ga. Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the KKK died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence.

Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era.

Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength.

In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office.

Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form provided you’re white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan’s trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version.

While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison years after the fact for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings.

“While today’s Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the ’60s,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist.

“That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,” he added.

Klan leaders told the AP that most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s trademark robes in colors other than white.

It’s impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups don’t reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns.

“Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonald’s,” said Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina. As for his Klavern, he said, “Right now, I’m close to 3,800 members in my group alone.”

The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barker’s Loyal White Knights as the most active group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000.

The Alabama-based SPLC estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s.

“The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the ’20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,” Potok said.

Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, and the group died.

The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, but it was resurrected as waves of immigrants arrived from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged the South’s Jim Crow laws in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers.

That momentum declined, and best estimates place membership at about 40,000 by the mid-’60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963.

KKK leader Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi, said stopping immigration not blocking minority rights is the Klan’s No. 1 issue today.

And other Klan leaders say Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the GOP is a sign things are going their way.

“You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall,” Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said.

Despite trying to rebrand itself, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses. As the sun set on a warm Saturday in April, Klan members gathered in a huge circle in a northwest Georgia field to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire.

“White power!” they chanted in unison.

“Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!”

___

Associated Press writer Ryan Phillips in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and AP photographer Mike Stewart in Rome, Georgia, contributed to this report.

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Ku Klux Klan dreams of rising again 150 years after founding

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The Ku Klux Klan is slowly rising again | New York Post

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence.

Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era.

Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength.

We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer, said Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi.

In a series of interviews with the Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that US politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obamas second term in office, though few would provide numbers.

Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form provided youre white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klans trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version.

While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison years after the fact for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings.

While todays Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the 60s, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist. That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence, he added.

Historian David Cunningham, author of Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan, notes that while the Klan generally doesnt openly advocate violence, I do think we have the sort of other model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas.

Klan leaders told the AP that most of todays groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKKs trademark robes in colors other than white.

So-called traditional Klan groups avoid public displays and practice rituals dating back a century; others post web videos dedicated to preaching against racial diversity and warning of a coming white genocide. Women are voting members in some groups, but not in others. Some leaders will not speak openly with the media but others do, articulating ambitious plans that include quietly building political strength.

Some groups hold annual conventions, just like civic clubs. Members gather in meeting rooms to discuss strategies that include electing Klan members to local political offices and recruiting new blood through the internet.

Its impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups dont reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns. Waller said his group is growing, as did Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina.

Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonalds, Barker said. As for his Klavern, he said, Right now, Im close to 3,800 members in my group alone.

The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barkers Loyal White Knights as the most active Klan group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members total. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000.

The Alabama-based SPLC says theres no evidence the Klan is returning to the strength of its heyday. It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s.

The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the 20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but its not happening, Potok said.

Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died.

The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected. It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers.

That momentum declined, and best estimates place Klan membership at about 40,000 by the mid-60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963.

Cunningham, the historian, said the Klan dwindled to nearly nothing during the 1970s and 80s, when the SPLC sued the Alabama-based United Klans of America over the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man whose beaten, slashed body was hanged from a tree. In an odd twist, Donalds mother wound up with the title to the Klans headquarters near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because the group didnt have the money to pay the $7 million judgment awarded in the SPLC suit.

KKK leader Brent Waller was raised in Laurel, Mississippi, in the shadow of the civil rights-era Klan. He has boyhood memories of flaming crosses and of Sam Bowers, a Klan boss who served six years in prison for his role directing the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, and who later was convicted of killing a civil rights leader in 1966.

Rather than a white robe, Waller, 47, wears a snow-white suit and orange tie when in public on Klan business and insists on donning sunglasses in photos to protect his identity.

Stopping immigration, not blocking minority rights, is the Klans No. 1 issue today, Waller said. His group operates by the KKK rulebook called the Kloran, which was first published in 1915. Various versions of the book are now online, and an edition posted by the University of Wisconsin library states in part: We shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy and will strenuously oppose any compromise thereof in any and all things.

The current hot-button issue for Klan members fighting immigration and closing US borders is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election. Klan leaders say Donald Trumps immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs that things are going their way.

You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall, Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said.

Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name. It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity.

There is a lot of baggage with the name, said Rachel Pendergraft, Robbs daughter, who leads the group with him. You say the name KKK and a lot of people have a narrative in their minds of what it is about, what it does. The name resonates with people, whether it is good or whether it is bad.

Despite trying to rebrand itself in many ways, 150 years later, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses, though it rarely does so in public. Instead, the lightings, as members call them, are held on private property away from law enforcement and demonstrators.

In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia. As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire.

White power! they chanted in unison.

Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!

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The Ku Klux Klan is slowly rising again | New York Post

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Ku Klux Klan at 150: Trying to reshape itself for a new era …

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence.

Yet today, the KKK is still alive and members dreams of restoring the group to what it once was: an invisible white supremacist empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era.

Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength.

“We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer,” said Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi.

In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office, though few would provide numbers.

Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form provided you’re white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan’s trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version.

While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison years after the fact for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings.

“While today’s Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the ’60s,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist. “That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,” he added.

Historian David Cunningham, author of “Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan,” notes that while the Klan generally doesn’t openly advocate violence, “I do think we have the sort of ‘other’ model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas.”

Klan leaders told the AP that most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s trademark robes in colors other than white.

So-called “traditional” Klan groups avoid public displays and practice rituals dating back a century; others post web videos dedicated to preaching against racial diversity and warning of a coming “white genocide.” Women are voting members in some groups, but not in others. Some leaders will not speak openly with the media but others do, articulating ambitious plans that include quietly building political strength.

Some groups hold annual conventions, just like civic clubs. Members gather in meeting rooms to discuss strategies that include electing Klan members to local political offices and recruiting new blood through the internet.

It’s impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups don’t reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns. Waller said his group is growing, as did Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina.

“Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonald’s,” Barker said. As for his Klavern, he said, “Right now, I’m close to 3,800 members in my group alone.”

The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barker’s Loyal White Knights as the most active Klan group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members total. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000.

The Alabama-based SPLC says there’s no evidence the Klan is returning to the strength of its heyday. It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s.

“The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the ’20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,” Potok said.

Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died.

The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected. It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers.

That momentum declined, and best estimates place Klan membership at about 40,000 by the mid-’60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963.

Cunningham, the historian, said the Klan dwindled to nearly nothing during the 1970s and ’80s, when the SPLC sued the Alabama-based United Klans of America over the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man whose beaten, slashed body was hanged from a tree. In an odd twist, Donald’s mother wound up with the title to the Klan’s headquarters near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because the group didn’t have the money to pay the $7 million judgment awarded in the SPLC suit.

KKK leader Brent Waller was raised in Laurel, Mississippi, in the shadow of the civil rights-era Klan. He has boyhood memories of flaming crosses and of Sam Bowers, a Klan boss who served six years in prison for his role directing the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, and who later was convicted of killing a civil rights leader in 1966.

Rather than a white robe, Waller, 47, wears a snow-white suit and orange tie when in public on Klan business and insists on donning sunglasses in photos to protect his identity.

Stopping immigration, not blocking minority rights, is the Klan’s No. 1 issue today, Waller said. His group operates by the KKK rulebook called the “Kloran,” which was first published in 1915. Various versions of the book are now online, and an edition posted by the University of Wisconsin library states in part: “We shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy and will strenuously oppose any compromise thereof in any and all things.”

The current hot-button issue for Klan members fighting immigration and closing U.S. borders is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election. Klan leaders say Donald Trump’s immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs things are going their way.

“You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall,” Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said.

Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name. It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity.

“There is a lot of baggage with the name,” said Rachel Pendergraft, Robb’s daughter, who leads the group with him. “You say the name ‘KKK’ and a lot of people have a narrative in their minds of what it is about, what it does. The name resonates with people, whether it is good or whether it is bad.”

Despite trying to rebrand itself in many ways, 150 years later, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses, though it rarely does so in public. Instead, the “lightings,” as members call them, are held on private property away from law enforcement and demonstrators.

In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia. As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire.

“White power!” they chanted in unison.

“Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!”

___

Associated Press writer Jay Reeves wrote this article. Ryan Phillips in Stone Mountain, Ga.; and AP photographer Mike Stewart in Rome, Ga., contributed to this report.

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Ku Klux Klan at 150: Trying to reshape itself for a new era …

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Knights of the Ku Klux Klan | Southern Poverty Law Center

The group’s leaders, from Duke to current chief Thomas Robb, have been plagued by their own racist views, which inevitably shine through the smokescreen, and by the attacks of other Klan members who view their interest in mainstream media and politics as hypocritical and counterproductive.

In Its Own Words “Non-whites who reside in America should be expected to conduct themselves according to Christian principles and must recognize that race mixing is definitely wrong and out of the question. It will be a privilege to live under the authority of a compassionate White Christian government.” The Knights Party website

“[T]here are politicians in Washington D.C. working around the clock chipping away at our liberty, but thanks to the foresight of our founding fathers America has held out the longest against the global, race mixing, homosexual, anti-Christ forces working to wipe out White Christianity the way we have always known it.” The Knights Party website

“The Mexican birthrate in this country is five times that of white people. The black birthrate is four times larger. America will become a Third World nation if these trends continue. Unless we slow down and cut off immigration by beefing up border control and encourage welfare recipients to have fewer kids, the white population in America will be swamped.” David Duke in the run-up to the KKKK’s 1977 “Border Patrol” operation

“Dats when A’hs does what A’hs want. Dat’s also when A’hs kin have da white girls, and da free food stamps.” KKKK leader Thomas Robb, The White Patriot

“Fear of the Klan will never win our people over but rekindling the love for their heritage will and love of heritage is what we want. Love of Race, Love of Nation, Love of Faith. This is our Goal This is our Hope!” The Crusader, 2005

Background In true David Duke style, the foundation of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKKK) is shrouded in political myth. Duke’s claim that the Knights were founded in 1956 by Ed White (a pseudonym for Jim Lindsay) has, however, been largely discredited as a propagandistic attempt by the budding Klan leader to fend off depictions of his group as an inconsequential upstart. The group seems to have first appeared briefly in New Orleans in 1973, with Duke billing himself grand dragon and Jim Lindsay grand wizard. But records show that the KKKK was not formally incorporated in Louisiana until 1975, following Lindsay’s murder, when Duke listed himself as founder and national director and his then-wife, Chloe, as secretary.

Duke’s attempts to win over the old guard of Klan leaders, both by re-imagining the origins of his group and by reaching out early on to fellow “Klan brothers,” belied his revolutionary plans. Famously calling on fellow Klansmen to “get out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms,” Duke saw himself as the leader of a slick, new Klan which would captivate the public through political discourse, eschewing the violent methods of the past. Duke thus brought the art of media manipulation to the Klan, wooing mainstream media personalities such as NBC host Tom Snyder and attracting dozens of reporters to write excited stories about the Knights’ 1977 “Border Patrol” publicity stunt, a supposed effort to close the U.S.-Mexico border to undocumented entrants that lasted just a few days. Under Duke’s management, the Knights opened its doors to women and Catholics (while never giving up entirely on the view that women are, above all else, best utilized for producing white babies). This all served to reinforce the public image of a more modern, educated Klan, an image that Duke reinforced by shunning Klan robes for suits and ties.

Duke also revamped the Klan’s particular brand of bigotry. No longer a mere horde of cross-burning minority-haters, the Knights, like many other American hate groups, became “Nazified” focused on Jews rather than blacks as the primary enemy with Duke spinning elaborate theories about everything from Jewish control of the Federal Reserve to a Jewish conspiracy behind the civil rights movement. Likewise, the leadership of state KKKK chapters boasted a pantheon of budding neo-Nazi figures, including notorious anti-Semite Don Blackin Alabama, White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger in California, and David Lane, a future leader of the terrorist group The Order, in Colorado.

For a while, the Knights prospered, hosting in 1975 one of the largest Klan gatherings in decades in Walker, La. By 1979, Duke had built membership in the KKKK to an estimated 1,500, with another 10,000 non-member supporters. Duke and his tactics were arguably the catalyst for the Knights’ growth, but the egocentric leader also posed a constant threat to his group. Even one of the Knights’ greatest successes, the Walker rally in 1975, contained the seeds of trouble. In the rally’s wake, its organizer, Knights member Bill Wilkinson, quit in disgust over Duke’s management of the proceeds. This kind of criticism soon became common, with aides to Duke, also including Metzger and others, eventually alienated by what they portrayed as his corruption, his womanizing and his self-serving desire for personal political glory. A series of schisms rocked the Knights, and by 1980, the breakaway group that Wilkinson had formed following his departure the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan boasted more members than Duke’s KKKK.

Thus, by the time that David Duke left in disgrace, after being caught on camera trying to sell the Knights’ membership list, the KKKK was already weakened. That, plus the prosecution of several group leaders including Duke for allegedly inciting a riot at a New Orleans meeting, decimated the Knights. Many of those KKKK members who remained followed Duke to his new, non-Klan group, the National Association for the Advancement of White People, and the KKKK almost entirely collapsed several years later with Don Black’s 1981 arrest for conspiring to invade the Caribbean nation of Dominica. Leadership of the weakened KKKK passed to Stanley McCollum and the 1980s saw a decline in Klan activity, with the Knights claiming only a few hundred members when Thom Robb took over in 1989.

Robb, who eschewed the Klannish “Imperial Wizard” title in favor of the more businesslike “National Director,” led the group to something of a revival in the early 1990s, even attempting at one point to start a family-oriented Klan camp near the KKKK’s new headquarters at his home in Harrison, Ark. Claiming, like Duke, to represent a “kinder, gentler” Klan, Robb followed in Duke’s media-exploiting footsteps with the added boon of expanded Internet communications. Robb’s was the first Klan site on the Web and he managed to develop a number of linked sites, thus creating the impression of a mushrooming cyber-movement. A gifted public speaker, Robb was also an adherent and pastor of Christian Identitytheology who wooed his listeners with speeches embracing a more subtle form of hate cloaked behind white “pride” and Christian compassion. But these promising efforts could not stop a series of schisms similar to those that plagued the KKKK under Duke.

Like Duke, Robb also had a sharp interest in financial matters. He “formalized” KKKK recruitment, abandoning initiation rites in favor of a simple mail-in fee, in return for which members received booklets and tests allowing them to pay for their “promotion” to the next level. Complaints arose that this practice made Klan membership virtually meaningless. The salesmanship exhibited by Robb has sparked other controversies about money management, as well. In 1994, a number of high-ranking members split with Robb amidst accusations that he had made off with telephone hotline funds and a $20,000 donation to the group. These peoples were also highly critical of Robb’s “kinder, gentler” approach and went on to found more confrontational Klan factions. One of the splinters that emerged was a Michigan-based group that promptly hosted a more “traditional” Klan rally, hoods and all, in Lafayette, Ind. Ed Novak, an ex-lieutenant of Robb’s, founded the Chicago-based Federation of Klans and took with him roughly one third of Robb’s membership.

Although weakened since the 1994 split, the KKKK has continued to stage rallies and other events, garnering the most media attention for its involvement in several “free speech” lawsuits. The group was represented by the ACLU in a 1999 Missouri case in which a local KKKK chapter was initially barred from participating in the state’s “Adopt-a-Highway” cleanup program (the Adopt-a-Highway technique had been advocated by David Duke himself). And, that same year, it engaged in a failed attempt to underwrite St. Louis, Mo., broadcasts of the National Public Radio new program “All Things Considered.” Most recently, the Knights were sued by the conservative tabloid Rhinoceros Times in North Carolina for allegedly inserting Klan leaflets into papers that were then distributed to local residences.

Today, Robb’s website continues to bill the Knights, somewhat disingenuously, as “the most active white rights organization in America” (it clearly is not) and still offers Klan membership (and promotion!) for a price. Robb recently began calling his organization “The Knights Party” in an attempt to emphasize what he sees as the need for a softer, more political approach along the lines of David Duke’s tactics. In order, apparently, to finance political activity, the Knights website offers numerous wares for sale, such as handcrafted, glazed-ceramic statues of Klansmen.

Excerpt from:

Knights of the Ku Klux Klan | Southern Poverty Law Center

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June 24, 2016   Posted in: Ku Klux Klan  Comments Closed

KU KLUX KLAN | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State …

Ku Klux Klan parading, Beaumont, November 10,1922. Courtesy Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, Beaumont. KU KLUX KLAN. The history of the Ku Klux Klan in Texas extends from the Reconstruction era to the present. The original organization was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee, probably in May or early June 1866, by six young Confederate veterans. Its name reportedly derived from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle or band; “Klan,” though redundant, was appended to the name for alliteration. The Klan’s founders devised a series of elaborate secret rituals for the organization, closely patterned after the Kuklos Adelphon, a college fraternity widespread throughout the South in the antebellum period. Officers consisted of a “grand cyclops” or president, a “grand magi” (plural sic) or vice president, a “grand Turk” or marshal, and a “grand exchequer” (sic) or treasurer. Local chapters were called dens. In its early years the Klan’s regalia included a white mask with holes for the eyes, a high, conical, cardboard hat, and long flowing robes. Initially the organization existed solely for amusement, but as it spread through the Southern states it became more and more associated with vigilantism and opposition to Republican rule. By the late 1860s the Klan became one of the principal forms of opposition to Reconstruction, and members were pledged to support the supremacy of the white race, to oppose the amalgamation of the races, to resist the social and political encroachment of carpetbaggers, and to restore white control of the government. The Klan of the Reconstruction era was not a single organization or even a loose confederation of local and state groups. Several different Klan-like organizations with different relationships to each other coexisted in various parts of the South; they included the Knights of the Red Hand, the Pale Faces, the White Brotherhood, the Constitutional Union Guards, and, in Texas, the Knights of the Rising Sun and the Knights of the White Camellia. Evidence that the Klan had spread to Texas was first noted in March 1868. At first the group’s activities consisted of parades, publications of cryptic newspaper notices, and midnight meetings at graveyards. Republican newspapers satirized these happenings, but by May, when the Klan began to resort to murder and acts of intimidation directed at freedmen and white Republicans, the light-hearted notices ended. Despite its outward appearance of unity, the Klan in Texas was in many ways poorly organized. Roger Q. Mills, a former secessionist and later a congressman, coordinated activities in the state, but often the local groups acted autonomously with little or no central direction. Members of every social stratum belonged to the Klan, though the more respectable elite usually shied away from acts of violence. Local groups of the Klan or bands posing as Klansmen sometimes used terrorist acts such as stealing horses or burning crops merely to gain economic advantage, but most of their victims were Republicans. Generally, Klan violence closely followed politics. Most of the Klan’s activities were focused in Northeast Texas, and at least twenty counties, extending from Houston north to the Red River, experienced some form of Klan terror. In Trinity County in 1868, for example, disguised bands killed several freedmen, forced most of the black voters to register as Democrats, and intimidated federal officials. A local Republican wrote, “Anyone in this community opposed to the Grand Cyclops and his imps is in danger of his life.” In Gilmer, Canton, Quitman, Boston, Marshall, and other towns of the region, civil authorities were similarly powerless to control Klan violence. Among the centers of Klan activity in the state was Jefferson and surrounding Marion County, where the small federal garrison under the command of Maj. James Curtis could do little to stem the terror. In October 1868 a band of Klan vigilantes killed George W. Smithqv, leader of the local Republicans, and a number of his black followers; for the next two months bands rode through the countryside burning houses and crops and beating and intimidating terrified blacks. By late 1868, however, authorities began to gain the upper hand throughout the state. Between October 1868 and September 1869 fifty-nine cases were tried before military courts in Texas, resulting in twenty-nine convictions. In 1870, Republican governor Edmund J. Davis called on the legislature to form a State Police and a militia, and the measures were passed in June and July. The following year the legislature passed another law making it illegal to be armed and disguised. The Texas Klan began to wane in 1869. In March of that year, the chief executive, or “grand wizard,” proclaimed a disbanding of the group. Many of the local chapters followed the lead of the statewide organization, but isolated pockets of Klan activity were still observable in the early 1870s. On June 8, 1870, the Daily State Journal, a Radical Republican newspaper, reported that a Klan parade had been held in McKinney, and in July 1871 the same paper reported that masked men had beaten a white teacher of a black school in Bastrop. Such incidents, however, became less common after mid-1870, and the organization in general ceased to exist after Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Act of April 1871, which permitted the president of the United States to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in cases of secret conspiracy. Although federal efforts played a role in the dissolving the Klan, just as important was the growing reluctance of the Southern white leadership to tolerate violence. Around the time of World War I a new Ku Klux Klan, patterned after the original one, made its appearance. The resurgent group began in Georgia, where William J. Simmons dedicated it at a cross-burning on Stone Mountain on Thanksgiving eve, 1915. The success of D. W. Griffith’s epic film of the same year, Birth of a Nation, based on Thomas Dixon’s novel The Clansman (1905), with its vivid portrayals of Radical Republican excesses, had helped to fan the flames of racial animosity, which had smoldered since Reconstruction. Also fueling the fire was a growing American nativist movement with its concomitant distrust of Catholics, Jews, African Americans, and other “foreign” elements. At first the new Klan grew slowly, but in the aftermath of World War I, the organization spread rapidly, not only in the South and Southwest, but also through the Midwest and to both coasts. At its height in the early 1920s the new Klan boasted some two million members. As before, its members or those posing as Klansmen perpetrated acts of violence, and although atrocities were committed across the nation, they were generally concentrated in the South. Some Texans were receptive to the Klan’s angry and insular message, and by the early 1920s membership in the state organization numbered in the tens of thousands. Hooded legions paraded in Texas cities and towns, and cross-burnings, intended to show the power of the “invisible empire,” became all too common. The revived Klan’s main public appeal was as a fraternal lodge, a refuge for white, Protestant America. It promised to reform politics, to enforce prohibition, and to champion traditional morality. The preponderance of the membership was concentrated in small towns, but the organization also spread to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and the other large cities. Members were drawn from all sectors of society, and many civic leaders, politicians, and law-enforcement officials either belonged or deferred to the Klan. Many officials, however, opposed it. When Waco Klan No. 33 tried to march in the small Central Texas town of Lorena, the sheriff of McLennan County tried to stop the demonstration, touching off a riot in which several people were wounded and one man stabbed to death. The growing violence attributed to the Klan caused wide resentment, and by 1922 a number of anti-Klan organizations had formed across the state. Recognizing the threat to the organization’s growth, Dallas dentist Hiram Wesley Evans, who was elected “imperial wizard,” or national leader, at the organization’s first national convention in November 1922, sought to reform the Klan and to change its image. He placed strict controls on local groups, which were, for instance, no longer allowed to wear Klan regalia except at Klan-sponsored events, and sought to extend Klan power by working to have members elected to important political posts. The strategy was especially successful in Texas. With a membership of perhaps as many as 100,000, the Klan used its united voting block to elect state legislators, sheriffs, judges, and other local and state officials. Its greatest success, however, was in securing the election of Earle Bradford Mayfield to the United States Senate in 1922. The following year the Klan established firm control of city governments in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Wichita Falls, and the order probably had a majority in the House of Representatives of the Thirty-eighth Texas Legislature, which met in January. By the end of 1922 the paid membership swelled to as many as 150,000, and Kluxers looked forward to even greater triumphs. The year 1923, however, was the high-water mark for the Klan. Its candidate for governor, Felix D. Robertson, a member of the Dallas Klan, was defeated in 1924 by Ma (Miriam Amanda) Ferguson, and dissension within the organization and growing anti-Klan sentiment combined to weaken its influence greatly. By 1928 the membership had declined to around 2,500, and most prominent supporters had left the fold. During the Great Depression, Klan strength waned even further. The fraternity continued its attack on blacks, Jews, and Catholics, but added New Deal politicians and labor organizers to its list of enemies. In 1939 Evans sold ownership of the Klan to James A. Colescott, a veterinarian from Terre Haute, Indiana, but Colescott was soon forced to dissolve the organization because of problems with back taxes and protests over the Klan’s association with the German-American Bund. After World War II the Klan became increasingly fragmented. During the civil-rights era of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Klan activity in Texas again increased, but because of new anti-Klan laws and FBI pressure, the organization remained small and politically impotent. Subsequently, the Klan fractured into numerous small cells. Among the largest of the Klan groups are the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Camellia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, but there are also others, each with its own outlook and agenda and a hatred of competing groups. During the early 1980s the Klan gained new notoriety for its attacks on Vietnamese shrimpers along the Gulf Coast (see SHRIMPING INDUSTRY), and in the early 1990s it was again in the news because of assaults on black residents in Vidor. In the waning years of the twentieth century various Klan groups forged links with skinheads and other neo-Nazis and, despite numerous legal actions, continued to be an irritant in the state. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Charles C. Alexander, Crusade for Conformity: The Ku Klux Klan in Texas, 19201930 (Houston: Texas Gulf Coast Historical Association, 1962). Charles C. Alexander, The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1965). Linda Elaine Kilgore, The Ku Klux Klan and the Press in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1964). Shawn Lay, War, Revolution, and the Ku Klux Klan: A Study of Intolerance in a Border City (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1985). Allen W. Trelease, White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction (New York: Harper and Row, 1971). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. “Westward,” Dallas Times Herald, March 31, 1985.

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Ku Klux Klan official confirms recruiting in SF – SFGate

Photo: Mike Stewart, Associated Press The Ku Klux Klans Will Quigg of Anaheim (center) at a rally in April. He said his organization is a new Klan that does not condone violence. The Ku Klux Klans Will Quigg of Anaheim (center) at a rally in April. He said his organization is a new Klan that does not condone violence. Ku Klux Klan official confirms recruiting in SF The Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyer that sparked outrage in San Franciscos Haight neighborhood this week was legitimate, a Klan official said Thursday, adding that the organization had recently received a surge in interest amid police shootings and protests. On Tuesday, neighborhood news outlet Hoodline posted a picture of the flyer, which was reportedly being distributed around Haight and Clayton and Oak and Lyon streets. Will Quigg, grand dragon of the KKKs West Coast region, said the picture showed one of the pamphlets that members tend to leave in driveways. Our organization is actively recruiting in all of California and all of the United States, Quigg said. Were getting a lot more calls, especially in the last few months with what Obamas doing, what Hillarys doing and especially Black Lives Matter calling for war and saying theyre trying to kill all whites. The recruitment flyer stated Black Lives Matter Black Panthers are telling followers to kill white people and police officers in the name of justice for the killing of Negros by policemen in the line of duty. These Negros were not innocent, they were thugs breaking the law, and standing up against police. It appeared the message was meant to incite fear of the Black Lives Matter movement, capitalizing on rising racial tensions since last weeks killings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the slayings of five police officers in Dallas. San Francisco NAACP President Amos Brown said the countrys strained race relations was not a result of Black Lives Matter but instead came from the rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Donald Trump ought to be ashamed of himself, Brown said. He is the one out of his self-centered interest who has created this climate. Brown said the KKK flyers were not surprising given the current atmosphere. Its time, as one theologian said, that people stop their silence, Brown said. Silence does give consent to evil, and the Ku Klux Klan is evil. The Klan took a sacred symbol of Christianity to terrorize black people. The terror of the Klan emerged in Pulaski, Tenn., to disenfranchise blacks and to keep them from having equality of opportunity, justice and equality. Quigg, however, insists the organization is a new Klan that doesnt condone violence and only passively recruits by leaving flyers in neighborhoods. We do not go knocking on peoples doors. We dont do that type of recruitment because we dont want to make any people feel uneasy or scared because they do not understand we are a new Klan, he said. We are a white, Christian, nonviolent civil rights organization. Jenna Lyons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jlyons@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @JennaJourno

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Georgia’s high court rules in favor of Ku Klux Klan in …

ATLANTA Dismissing an appeal on a technicality, Georgia’s highest court granted a victory to a Ku Klux Klan group that has been seeking for years to participate in a highway cleanup program. The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the state’s appeal of a lower court decision that the state had violated the KKK group’s free speech rights. The Department of Transportation filed its appeal incorrectly, leaving the high court without authority to consider its merits, the opinion said. The state attorney general’s office, which represents the department, is reviewing the decision and considering its options, spokesman Nicholas Genesi said in an email. The north Georgia KKK group applied to join the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program in May 2012, hoping to pick up litter along part of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains. The program was started in 1989 to get volunteers to clean up sections of roads in the state. In exchange, the Department of Transportation posts a sponsorship sign along the road with the program logo and the volunteer group’s name. The state Department of Transportation, which runs the program, denied the KKK group’s application, saying its program was aimed at “civic-minded organizations in good standing” and citing what it called the KKK’s “long-rooted history of civil disturbance” and the “potential for social unrest.” The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation sued on behalf of the KKK group in September 2012, arguing that the state violated the group’s right to free speech. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua agreed and ruled in the group’s favor in November 2014, saying the KKK’s group’s application was treated differently than others and that “viewpoint-based discrimination” is not allowed under the Georgia Constitution. The state appealed, arguing that the KKK group’s arguments were barred by the principle of sovereign immunity, which shields the state and its agencies from being sued in their official capacity unless the General Assembly waives that protection. The Department of Transportation didn’t have an automatic right to appeal in this case and failed to file a necessary application to appeal, leaving the high court without jurisdiction and with no choice but to dismiss the appeal, the opinion says. Alan Begner, an attorney for the KKK group, said they are considering the ruling a victory, though he and his clients would have liked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the underlying issue of sovereign immunity in cases of constitutional challenges to government actions. It’s not entirely clear what happens next. The Department of Transportation adopted a moratorium on allowing any new participants in the highway cleanup program shortly after it denied the KKK group’s request. In her original ruling, LaGrua had dismissed the KKK group’s request to order the state to allow it to participate in the program. Begner said he needs to talk to the ACLU and his clients about possible next steps.

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Ku Klux Klan dream of a U.S comeback as group marks 150 years …

Despite plummeting from millions of racist members in the 1920s to thousands today, the Ku Klux Klan is attempting to restore itself to the force it once was. As it marks 150 years, the fascist group is looking to raise its hooded head once more and with the development in online communications, spreading the word has never been easier. Prospective white supremacy members can fill in forms online to join and can get their hands on the infamous white robes for $145, or upgrade from cotton to satin for $165 – under one condition – they are white and Christian. Klan leaflets are appearing in suburban neighborhoods all the way from the Deep South to the Northwest, there are still thousands of members actively involved and with immigration a hot topic in the U.S. presidency race, the Klan believe it is their time to shine once more. As recently as April, the KKK met in Georgia, chanting, ‘Death to the ungodly!’, ‘Death to our enemies!’ and ‘White power!’ as they burned crosses and carried out the rituals their murdering forefathers carried out decades ago. Scroll down for video Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months Today’s members of the KKK dream of restoring the fascist movement to what it once was – an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society Masked and hooded: New members can purchase the infamous cotton white robes online for $145 or a satin version costs $165 Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against black people. But today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era. Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength. ‘We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer,’ said Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi. In a series of interviews, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration – a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s – is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office, though few would provide numbers. Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form – provided you’re white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan’s trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version. While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings. ‘While today’s Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the `60s,’ said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist. ‘That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,’ he added. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings Historian David Cunningham, author of ‘Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan,’ notes that while the Klan generally doesn’t openly advocate violence, ‘I do think we have the sort of “other” model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas.’ Klan leaders admitted most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s robes in colors other than white. So-called ‘traditional’ Klan groups avoid public displays and practice rituals dating back a century while others post web videos dedicated to preaching against racial diversity and warning of a coming ‘white genocide’. Women are voting members in some groups, but not in others. Some leaders will not speak openly with the media but others do, articulating ambitious plans that include quietly building political strength. Some groups hold annual conventions, just like civic clubs, where members gather in meeting rooms to discuss strategies that include electing Klan members to local political offices and recruiting new blood through the internet. It’s impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups don’t reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns. Waller said his group is growing, as did Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina. ‘Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonald’s,’ Barker said. As for his Klavern, he said, ‘Right now, I’m close to 3,800 members in my group alone.’ The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barker’s Loyal White Knights as the most active Klan group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members total. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000. The Alabama-based SPLC says there’s no evidence the Klan is returning to the strength of its heyday. It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s. It is estimated the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated two to five million members in the 1920s ‘The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the 20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,’ Potok said. Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died. The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected. It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers. The KKK grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere encouraged millions to join, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers. A hooded man (left) displays a hangman’s noose dangling from an automobile as a warning for black people to stay away from voting places in the municipal primary election at Miami but in spite of the threats, 616 voted; Pictured right two young boys raise their arms as a white power T-shirt is held in front of them during a Klan rally held near Benson, N.C in 1980 Members of the Ku Klux Klan, wearing traditional white hoods and robes, stand back and watch with their arms crossed after burning a 15-foot cross at Tampa, Fla, in 1939 That momentum declined, and best estimates place Klan membership at about 40,000 by the mid-’60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963. Cunningham, the historian, said the Klan dwindled to nearly nothing during the 1970s and `80s, when the SPLC sued the Alabama-based United Klans of America over the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man whose beaten, slashed body was hanged from a tree. In an odd twist, Donald’s mother wound up with the title to the Klan’s headquarters near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because the group didn’t have the money to pay the $7 million judgment awarded in the SPLC suit. KKK leader Brent Waller was raised in Laurel, Mississippi, in the shadow of the civil rights-era Klan. He has boyhood memories of flaming crosses and of Sam Bowers, a Klan boss who served six years in prison for his role directing the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, and who later was convicted of killing a civil rights leader in 1966. Rather than a white robe, Waller, 47, wears a snow-white suit and orange tie when in public on Klan business and insists on donning sunglasses in photos to protect his identity. The new breed: A member of the Ku Klux Klan uses a mobile device during cross burnings after a ‘white pride’ rally in rural Paulding County near Cedar Town (left) whileBrent Waller, Mississippi grand dragon and spokesman for the Tennessee-based imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi poses for a photograph A man with a Nazi swastika tattooed across his shoulderblade walks during a protest at Stone Mountain Park, in Stone Mountain, Ga Stopping immigration, not blocking minority rights, is the Klan’s number one issue today, Waller said. His group operates by the KKK rulebook called the ‘Kloran,’ which was first published in 1915. Various versions of the book are now online, and an edition posted by the University of Wisconsin library states in part: ‘We shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy and will strenuously oppose any compromise thereof in any and all things.’ The current hot-button issue for Klan members – fighting immigration and closing U.S. borders – is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election. Klan leaders say Donald Trump’s immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs things are going their way. ‘You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall,’ Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said. Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name. It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity. ‘There is a lot of baggage with the name,’ said Rachel Pendergraft, Robb’s daughter, who leads the group with him. ‘You say the name “KKK” and a lot of people have a narrative in their minds of what it is about, what it does. The name resonates with people, whether it is good or whether it is bad.’ Despite trying to rebrand itself in many ways, 150 years later, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses, though it rarely does so in public. Instead, the ‘lightings,’ as members call them, are held on private property away from law enforcement and demonstrators. In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia. As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire. ‘White power!’ they chanted in unison. ‘Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!’

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July 1, 2016   Posted in: Ku Klux Klan  Comments Closed

At 150, KKK sees opportunities in US political trends

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence. Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible white supremacist empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength. “We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer,” said Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi. In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office, though few would provide numbers. Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form provided you’re white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan’s trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version. While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison years after the fact for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings. “While today’s Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the ’60s,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist. “That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,” he added. Historian David Cunningham, author of “Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan,” notes that while the Klan generally doesn’t openly advocate violence, “I do think we have the sort of ‘other’ model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas.” Klan leaders told the AP that most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s trademark robes in colors other than white. So-called “traditional” Klan groups avoid public displays and practice rituals dating back a century; others post web videos dedicated to preaching against racial diversity and warning of a coming “white genocide.” Women are voting members in some groups, but not in others. Some leaders will not speak openly with the media but others do, articulating ambitious plans that include quietly building political strength. Some groups hold annual conventions, just like civic clubs. Members gather in meeting rooms to discuss strategies that include electing Klan members to local political offices and recruiting new blood through the internet. It’s impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups don’t reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns. Waller said his group is growing, as did Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina. “Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonald’s,” Barker said. As for his Klavern, he said, “Right now, I’m close to 3,800 members in my group alone.” The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barker’s Loyal White Knights as the most active Klan group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members total. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000. The Alabama-based SPLC says there’s no evidence the Klan is returning to the strength of its heyday. It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s. “The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the ’20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,” Potok said. Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died. The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected. It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers. That momentum declined, and best estimates place Klan membership at about 40,000 by the mid-’60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963. Cunningham, the historian, said the Klan dwindled to nearly nothing during the 1970s and ’80s, when the SPLC sued the Alabama-based United Klans of America over the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man whose beaten, slashed body was hanged from a tree. In an odd twist, Donald’s mother wound up with the title to the Klan’s headquarters near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because the group didn’t have the money to pay the $7 million judgment awarded in the SPLC suit. KKK leader Brent Waller was raised in Laurel, Mississippi, in the shadow of the civil rights-era Klan. He has boyhood memories of flaming crosses and of Sam Bowers, a Klan boss who served six years in prison for his role directing the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, and who later was convicted of killing a civil rights leader in 1966. Rather than a white robe, Waller, 47, wears a snow-white suit and orange tie when in public on Klan business and insists on donning sunglasses in photos to protect his identity. Stopping immigration, not blocking minority rights, is the Klan’s No. 1 issue today, Waller said. His group operates by the KKK rulebook called the “Kloran,” which was first published in 1915. Various versions of the book are now online, and an edition posted by the University of Wisconsin library states in part: “We shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy and will strenuously oppose any compromise thereof in any and all things.” The current hot-button issue for Klan members fighting immigration and closing U.S. borders is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election. Klan leaders say Donald Trump’s immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs things are going their way. “You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall,” Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said. Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name. It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity. “There is a lot of baggage with the name,” said Rachel Pendergraft, Robb’s daughter, who leads the group with him. “You say the name ‘KKK’ and a lot of people have a narrative in their minds of what it is about, what it does. The name resonates with people, whether it is good or whether it is bad.” Despite trying to rebrand itself in many ways, 150 years later, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses, though it rarely does so in public. Instead, the “lightings,” as members call them, are held on private property away from law enforcement and demonstrators. In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia. As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire. “White power!” they chanted in unison. “Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!” ___ Associated Press writer Ryan Phillips in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and AP photographer Mike Stewart in Rome, Georgia, contributed to this report.

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July 1, 2016   Posted in: Ku Klux Klan  Comments Closed

Ku Klux Klan dreams of rising again 150 years after founding

The Associated Press In this Saturday, April 23, 2016 photo, members of the Ku Klux Klan participate in cross burnings after a “white pride” rally in rural Paulding County near Cedar Town, Ga. Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the KKK died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence. Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era. Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength. In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office. Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form provided you’re white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan’s trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version. While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison years after the fact for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings. “While today’s Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the ’60s,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist. “That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,” he added. Klan leaders told the AP that most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s trademark robes in colors other than white. It’s impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups don’t reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns. “Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonald’s,” said Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina. As for his Klavern, he said, “Right now, I’m close to 3,800 members in my group alone.” The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barker’s Loyal White Knights as the most active group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000. The Alabama-based SPLC estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s. “The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the ’20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,” Potok said. Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, and the group died. The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, but it was resurrected as waves of immigrants arrived from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged the South’s Jim Crow laws in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers. That momentum declined, and best estimates place membership at about 40,000 by the mid-’60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963. KKK leader Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi, said stopping immigration not blocking minority rights is the Klan’s No. 1 issue today. And other Klan leaders say Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the GOP is a sign things are going their way. “You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall,” Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said. Despite trying to rebrand itself, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses. As the sun set on a warm Saturday in April, Klan members gathered in a huge circle in a northwest Georgia field to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire. “White power!” they chanted in unison. “Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!” ___ Associated Press writer Ryan Phillips in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and AP photographer Mike Stewart in Rome, Georgia, contributed to this report.

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July 1, 2016   Posted in: Ku Klux Klan  Comments Closed

The Ku Klux Klan is slowly rising again | New York Post

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence. Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era. Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength. We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer, said Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi. In a series of interviews with the Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that US politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obamas second term in office, though few would provide numbers. Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form provided youre white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klans trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version. While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison years after the fact for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings. While todays Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the 60s, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist. That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence, he added. Historian David Cunningham, author of Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan, notes that while the Klan generally doesnt openly advocate violence, I do think we have the sort of other model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas. Klan leaders told the AP that most of todays groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKKs trademark robes in colors other than white. So-called traditional Klan groups avoid public displays and practice rituals dating back a century; others post web videos dedicated to preaching against racial diversity and warning of a coming white genocide. Women are voting members in some groups, but not in others. Some leaders will not speak openly with the media but others do, articulating ambitious plans that include quietly building political strength. Some groups hold annual conventions, just like civic clubs. Members gather in meeting rooms to discuss strategies that include electing Klan members to local political offices and recruiting new blood through the internet. Its impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups dont reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns. Waller said his group is growing, as did Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina. Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonalds, Barker said. As for his Klavern, he said, Right now, Im close to 3,800 members in my group alone. The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barkers Loyal White Knights as the most active Klan group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members total. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000. The Alabama-based SPLC says theres no evidence the Klan is returning to the strength of its heyday. It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s. The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the 20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but its not happening, Potok said. Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died. The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected. It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers. That momentum declined, and best estimates place Klan membership at about 40,000 by the mid-60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963. Cunningham, the historian, said the Klan dwindled to nearly nothing during the 1970s and 80s, when the SPLC sued the Alabama-based United Klans of America over the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man whose beaten, slashed body was hanged from a tree. In an odd twist, Donalds mother wound up with the title to the Klans headquarters near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because the group didnt have the money to pay the $7 million judgment awarded in the SPLC suit. KKK leader Brent Waller was raised in Laurel, Mississippi, in the shadow of the civil rights-era Klan. He has boyhood memories of flaming crosses and of Sam Bowers, a Klan boss who served six years in prison for his role directing the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, and who later was convicted of killing a civil rights leader in 1966. Rather than a white robe, Waller, 47, wears a snow-white suit and orange tie when in public on Klan business and insists on donning sunglasses in photos to protect his identity. Stopping immigration, not blocking minority rights, is the Klans No. 1 issue today, Waller said. His group operates by the KKK rulebook called the Kloran, which was first published in 1915. Various versions of the book are now online, and an edition posted by the University of Wisconsin library states in part: We shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy and will strenuously oppose any compromise thereof in any and all things. The current hot-button issue for Klan members fighting immigration and closing US borders is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election. Klan leaders say Donald Trumps immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs that things are going their way. You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall, Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said. Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name. It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity. There is a lot of baggage with the name, said Rachel Pendergraft, Robbs daughter, who leads the group with him. You say the name KKK and a lot of people have a narrative in their minds of what it is about, what it does. The name resonates with people, whether it is good or whether it is bad. Despite trying to rebrand itself in many ways, 150 years later, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses, though it rarely does so in public. Instead, the lightings, as members call them, are held on private property away from law enforcement and demonstrators. In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia. As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire. White power! they chanted in unison. Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!

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July 1, 2016   Posted in: Ku Klux Klan  Comments Closed

Ku Klux Klan at 150: Trying to reshape itself for a new era …

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence. Yet today, the KKK is still alive and members dreams of restoring the group to what it once was: an invisible white supremacist empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era. Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength. “We will work on a unified Klan and/or alliance this summer,” said Brent Waller, imperial wizard of the United Dixie White Knights in Mississippi. In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office, though few would provide numbers. Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form provided you’re white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan’s trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version. While the Klan has terrorized minorities during much of the last century, its leaders now present a public front that is more virulent than violent. Leaders from several different Klan groups all said they have rules against violence aside from self-defense, and even opponents agree the KKK has toned itself down after a string of members went to prison years after the fact for deadly arson attacks, beatings, bombings and shootings. “While today’s Klan has still been involved in atrocities, there is no way it is as violent as the Klan of the ’60s,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks activity by groups it considers extremist. “That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,” he added. Historian David Cunningham, author of “Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan,” notes that while the Klan generally doesn’t openly advocate violence, “I do think we have the sort of ‘other’ model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas.” Klan leaders told the AP that most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s trademark robes in colors other than white. So-called “traditional” Klan groups avoid public displays and practice rituals dating back a century; others post web videos dedicated to preaching against racial diversity and warning of a coming “white genocide.” Women are voting members in some groups, but not in others. Some leaders will not speak openly with the media but others do, articulating ambitious plans that include quietly building political strength. Some groups hold annual conventions, just like civic clubs. Members gather in meeting rooms to discuss strategies that include electing Klan members to local political offices and recruiting new blood through the internet. It’s impossible to say how many members the Klan counts today since groups don’t reveal that information, but leaders claim adherents in the thousands among scores of local groups called Klaverns. Waller said his group is growing, as did Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Eden, North Carolina. “Most Klan groups I talk to could hold a meeting in the bathroom in McDonald’s,” Barker said. As for his Klavern, he said, “Right now, I’m close to 3,800 members in my group alone.” The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish protection group that monitors Klan activity, describes Barker’s Loyal White Knights as the most active Klan group today, but estimates it has no more than 200 members total. The ADL puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000. The Alabama-based SPLC says there’s no evidence the Klan is returning to the strength of its heyday. It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s. “The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the ’20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,” Potok said. Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died. The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected. It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers. That momentum declined, and best estimates place Klan membership at about 40,000 by the mid-’60s, the height of the civil rights movement. Klan members were convicted of using murder as a weapon against equality in states including Mississippi and Alabama, where one Klansman remains imprisoned for planting the bomb that killed four black girls in a Birmingham church in 1963. Cunningham, the historian, said the Klan dwindled to nearly nothing during the 1970s and ’80s, when the SPLC sued the Alabama-based United Klans of America over the 1981 murder of Michael Donald, a black man whose beaten, slashed body was hanged from a tree. In an odd twist, Donald’s mother wound up with the title to the Klan’s headquarters near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because the group didn’t have the money to pay the $7 million judgment awarded in the SPLC suit. KKK leader Brent Waller was raised in Laurel, Mississippi, in the shadow of the civil rights-era Klan. He has boyhood memories of flaming crosses and of Sam Bowers, a Klan boss who served six years in prison for his role directing the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, and who later was convicted of killing a civil rights leader in 1966. Rather than a white robe, Waller, 47, wears a snow-white suit and orange tie when in public on Klan business and insists on donning sunglasses in photos to protect his identity. Stopping immigration, not blocking minority rights, is the Klan’s No. 1 issue today, Waller said. His group operates by the KKK rulebook called the “Kloran,” which was first published in 1915. Various versions of the book are now online, and an edition posted by the University of Wisconsin library states in part: “We shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy and will strenuously oppose any compromise thereof in any and all things.” The current hot-button issue for Klan members fighting immigration and closing U.S. borders is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election. Klan leaders say Donald Trump’s immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs things are going their way. “You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall,” Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said. Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name. It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity. “There is a lot of baggage with the name,” said Rachel Pendergraft, Robb’s daughter, who leads the group with him. “You say the name ‘KKK’ and a lot of people have a narrative in their minds of what it is about, what it does. The name resonates with people, whether it is good or whether it is bad.” Despite trying to rebrand itself in many ways, 150 years later, the Klan has not stepped away from burning crosses, though it rarely does so in public. Instead, the “lightings,” as members call them, are held on private property away from law enforcement and demonstrators. In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia. As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire. “White power!” they chanted in unison. “Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!” ___ Associated Press writer Jay Reeves wrote this article. Ryan Phillips in Stone Mountain, Ga.; and AP photographer Mike Stewart in Rome, Ga., contributed to this report.

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July 1, 2016   Posted in: Ku Klux Klan  Comments Closed

Knights of the Ku Klux Klan | Southern Poverty Law Center

The group’s leaders, from Duke to current chief Thomas Robb, have been plagued by their own racist views, which inevitably shine through the smokescreen, and by the attacks of other Klan members who view their interest in mainstream media and politics as hypocritical and counterproductive. In Its Own Words “Non-whites who reside in America should be expected to conduct themselves according to Christian principles and must recognize that race mixing is definitely wrong and out of the question. It will be a privilege to live under the authority of a compassionate White Christian government.” The Knights Party website “[T]here are politicians in Washington D.C. working around the clock chipping away at our liberty, but thanks to the foresight of our founding fathers America has held out the longest against the global, race mixing, homosexual, anti-Christ forces working to wipe out White Christianity the way we have always known it.” The Knights Party website “The Mexican birthrate in this country is five times that of white people. The black birthrate is four times larger. America will become a Third World nation if these trends continue. Unless we slow down and cut off immigration by beefing up border control and encourage welfare recipients to have fewer kids, the white population in America will be swamped.” David Duke in the run-up to the KKKK’s 1977 “Border Patrol” operation “Dats when A’hs does what A’hs want. Dat’s also when A’hs kin have da white girls, and da free food stamps.” KKKK leader Thomas Robb, The White Patriot “Fear of the Klan will never win our people over but rekindling the love for their heritage will and love of heritage is what we want. Love of Race, Love of Nation, Love of Faith. This is our Goal This is our Hope!” The Crusader, 2005 Background In true David Duke style, the foundation of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKKK) is shrouded in political myth. Duke’s claim that the Knights were founded in 1956 by Ed White (a pseudonym for Jim Lindsay) has, however, been largely discredited as a propagandistic attempt by the budding Klan leader to fend off depictions of his group as an inconsequential upstart. The group seems to have first appeared briefly in New Orleans in 1973, with Duke billing himself grand dragon and Jim Lindsay grand wizard. But records show that the KKKK was not formally incorporated in Louisiana until 1975, following Lindsay’s murder, when Duke listed himself as founder and national director and his then-wife, Chloe, as secretary. Duke’s attempts to win over the old guard of Klan leaders, both by re-imagining the origins of his group and by reaching out early on to fellow “Klan brothers,” belied his revolutionary plans. Famously calling on fellow Klansmen to “get out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms,” Duke saw himself as the leader of a slick, new Klan which would captivate the public through political discourse, eschewing the violent methods of the past. Duke thus brought the art of media manipulation to the Klan, wooing mainstream media personalities such as NBC host Tom Snyder and attracting dozens of reporters to write excited stories about the Knights’ 1977 “Border Patrol” publicity stunt, a supposed effort to close the U.S.-Mexico border to undocumented entrants that lasted just a few days. Under Duke’s management, the Knights opened its doors to women and Catholics (while never giving up entirely on the view that women are, above all else, best utilized for producing white babies). This all served to reinforce the public image of a more modern, educated Klan, an image that Duke reinforced by shunning Klan robes for suits and ties. Duke also revamped the Klan’s particular brand of bigotry. No longer a mere horde of cross-burning minority-haters, the Knights, like many other American hate groups, became “Nazified” focused on Jews rather than blacks as the primary enemy with Duke spinning elaborate theories about everything from Jewish control of the Federal Reserve to a Jewish conspiracy behind the civil rights movement. Likewise, the leadership of state KKKK chapters boasted a pantheon of budding neo-Nazi figures, including notorious anti-Semite Don Blackin Alabama, White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger in California, and David Lane, a future leader of the terrorist group The Order, in Colorado. For a while, the Knights prospered, hosting in 1975 one of the largest Klan gatherings in decades in Walker, La. By 1979, Duke had built membership in the KKKK to an estimated 1,500, with another 10,000 non-member supporters. Duke and his tactics were arguably the catalyst for the Knights’ growth, but the egocentric leader also posed a constant threat to his group. Even one of the Knights’ greatest successes, the Walker rally in 1975, contained the seeds of trouble. In the rally’s wake, its organizer, Knights member Bill Wilkinson, quit in disgust over Duke’s management of the proceeds. This kind of criticism soon became common, with aides to Duke, also including Metzger and others, eventually alienated by what they portrayed as his corruption, his womanizing and his self-serving desire for personal political glory. A series of schisms rocked the Knights, and by 1980, the breakaway group that Wilkinson had formed following his departure the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan boasted more members than Duke’s KKKK. Thus, by the time that David Duke left in disgrace, after being caught on camera trying to sell the Knights’ membership list, the KKKK was already weakened. That, plus the prosecution of several group leaders including Duke for allegedly inciting a riot at a New Orleans meeting, decimated the Knights. Many of those KKKK members who remained followed Duke to his new, non-Klan group, the National Association for the Advancement of White People, and the KKKK almost entirely collapsed several years later with Don Black’s 1981 arrest for conspiring to invade the Caribbean nation of Dominica. Leadership of the weakened KKKK passed to Stanley McCollum and the 1980s saw a decline in Klan activity, with the Knights claiming only a few hundred members when Thom Robb took over in 1989. Robb, who eschewed the Klannish “Imperial Wizard” title in favor of the more businesslike “National Director,” led the group to something of a revival in the early 1990s, even attempting at one point to start a family-oriented Klan camp near the KKKK’s new headquarters at his home in Harrison, Ark. Claiming, like Duke, to represent a “kinder, gentler” Klan, Robb followed in Duke’s media-exploiting footsteps with the added boon of expanded Internet communications. Robb’s was the first Klan site on the Web and he managed to develop a number of linked sites, thus creating the impression of a mushrooming cyber-movement. A gifted public speaker, Robb was also an adherent and pastor of Christian Identitytheology who wooed his listeners with speeches embracing a more subtle form of hate cloaked behind white “pride” and Christian compassion. But these promising efforts could not stop a series of schisms similar to those that plagued the KKKK under Duke. Like Duke, Robb also had a sharp interest in financial matters. He “formalized” KKKK recruitment, abandoning initiation rites in favor of a simple mail-in fee, in return for which members received booklets and tests allowing them to pay for their “promotion” to the next level. Complaints arose that this practice made Klan membership virtually meaningless. The salesmanship exhibited by Robb has sparked other controversies about money management, as well. In 1994, a number of high-ranking members split with Robb amidst accusations that he had made off with telephone hotline funds and a $20,000 donation to the group. These peoples were also highly critical of Robb’s “kinder, gentler” approach and went on to found more confrontational Klan factions. One of the splinters that emerged was a Michigan-based group that promptly hosted a more “traditional” Klan rally, hoods and all, in Lafayette, Ind. Ed Novak, an ex-lieutenant of Robb’s, founded the Chicago-based Federation of Klans and took with him roughly one third of Robb’s membership. Although weakened since the 1994 split, the KKKK has continued to stage rallies and other events, garnering the most media attention for its involvement in several “free speech” lawsuits. The group was represented by the ACLU in a 1999 Missouri case in which a local KKKK chapter was initially barred from participating in the state’s “Adopt-a-Highway” cleanup program (the Adopt-a-Highway technique had been advocated by David Duke himself). And, that same year, it engaged in a failed attempt to underwrite St. Louis, Mo., broadcasts of the National Public Radio new program “All Things Considered.” Most recently, the Knights were sued by the conservative tabloid Rhinoceros Times in North Carolina for allegedly inserting Klan leaflets into papers that were then distributed to local residences. Today, Robb’s website continues to bill the Knights, somewhat disingenuously, as “the most active white rights organization in America” (it clearly is not) and still offers Klan membership (and promotion!) for a price. Robb recently began calling his organization “The Knights Party” in an attempt to emphasize what he sees as the need for a softer, more political approach along the lines of David Duke’s tactics. In order, apparently, to finance political activity, the Knights website offers numerous wares for sale, such as handcrafted, glazed-ceramic statues of Klansmen.

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June 24, 2016   Posted in: Ku Klux Klan  Comments Closed


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