The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
The Ku Klux Klan, which in recent years has been a shadow of its once monolithic self, has been trying to make a comeback. From handing out candy to children, appearing in robes on the U.S.-Mexican border to protest President Obama’s executive action on immigration—even raising money for Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.—it seems Klansman are everywhere.
Is the Klan growing?
This week, Vice published a video report on the Klan experiencing a rise in members, in part fueled by a strategy that targets veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In it, host Rocco Castoro talks with the SPLC’s Mark Potok about hate group recruitment often being tied to military conflict.
“There is a very high degree of interest on the part of Klan groups in returning military veterans with high end military skills that they think will be useful to them one day,” Potok said. “A lot of these men are coming back traumatized with serious PTSD and other problems. The economy is not good. They’re not getting jobs, so they come home to find a situation that is not very good for them. … What some veterans find in these groups is family.”
Watch the videos.
If you ask the Ku Klux Klan, a gut wrenching racially charged American tragedy should never go to waste.
Since the beginning, in early August, at least two factions of the hooded Klansmen have repeatedly tried to exploit and inject themselves into the middle of the sad saga of the death of Michael Brown, the black, unarmed teenager who was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo., by police officer Darren Wilson.
Since then, the Klan has raised money for Wilson, who is white, joined rallies for him with other supporters and vowed to come to the Ferguson area to protect “white businesses” with guns.
And most recently, as Ferguson and the rest of the country anxiously await the decision by a grand jury on whether Wilson will be charged in the case – a decision expected to be announced any day now – the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan last week threatened to use “lethal force” against protesters in the St. Louis suburb.
“We will not sit by and allow you to harm our families, communities, property nor disrupt our daily lives,” the group declared in a flier.
For months now, protesters – black and white – have filled the streets of Ferguson, demanding Wilson be arrested and charged with the 18-year-old’s slaying. While most of the protests have been nonviolent, some have included looting, clashes with heavily armed police and dozens of arrests.
That fact didn’t stop the Klan from issuing its threats, veiled in the talk of self-defense.
“You have been warned by the Ku Klux Klan,” the flier stated. “There will be consequences of your actions against the peaceful, law abiding citizens of Missouri.”
But it is the Missouri-based Klan group that has had to face the consequences of its actions. Shortly after the Klan threat, the hacker collective Anonymous launched a campaign to target the group, publicly identifying its members through social media, as well as taking over its Twitter account.
“Due to your actions we started Operation KKK,” Anonymous said in a video. “The aim of our operation is nothing more than Cyber Warfare. Anything you upload will be taken down, anything you use to promote KKK will be shut down.”
The Missouri KKK group was not the first band of Klansmen trying to throw gasoline on the tensions in Ferguson.
Just days after Brown was killed, the South Carolina-based New Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan announced its Missouri chapter was raising money for the then still unnamed officer, who the Klan group hailed as a hero for shooting Brown at least six times in the middle of the street in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.
“We are setting up a reward/fund for the police officer who shot this thug,” the Klan said in an email. “He is a hero! We need more white cops who are anti-Zog and willing to put Jewish controlled black thugs in their place.”
A few days later, as black and white protesters filled the streets of Ferguson, demanding the officer’s arrest, the Empire Knights issued another chilling message. They said they were coming to the Ferguson area from three different states to guard “white businesses,” but it is unclear if any of ever showed up.
So far, it appears the two groups are filled with not much more than keyboard Klansmen, who throw verbal Molotov cocktails and then hide behind their sheets.
That is, before Anonymous got ahold of their Twitter account and ripped off their hoods.
Tempers flared and growing ideological differences came to a head at Stormfront’s Smoky Mountain Summit this year, as generational tensions took center stage.
The lightning rod was a presentation by Matthew Heimbach, co-founder of the Traditionalist Youth Network, who addressed attendees with calls for “#DeathToAmerica.” But his presentation, his second in recent years, caused a stir, particularly among the old guard.
Rehashing many familiar white nationalist talking points including a Jewish controlled U.S. federal government and a strident critique of affirmative action, Heimbach’s speech also visited less familiar ground, depicting an America that was born out of a secret partnership between the Free Masons and the Jews—one that has come to be a collection of individuals bound together only by money-worship and meaningless, government documentation.
“You are the wrong color, ladies and gentlemen. You are the wrong color to be an American and enjoy the American Dream. I’m sorry,” Heimbach told the crowd. “The meritocracy of America is skin color.”
While his presentation earned praise from the likes of Don Black, the founder of Stormfront, who personally invited Heimbach to the conference, others were not as pleased and voiced such displeasure that Black had to cancel a scheduled question-and-answer session at the conclusion of Heimbach’s presentation. Others took to the Internet with their gripes.
Pastor Thom Robb, former leader of the Knights Party and a well-known Christian Identity preacher and founder of the Soldiers of the Cross Training Institute, a summer camp for children to foster the tools for them to “fight for our racial redemption,” was insulted by Heimbach’s presentation.
“He was fundamentally wrong on several things and his presentation was unschooled,” Robb wrote on a Stormfront thread a week later. “Speakers should be experienced, grounded, mature and employ wisdom, otherwise they will never inspire others or be able to give a vision for others to grasp.”
He added, “Perhaps Matt will someday, becomes [sic] those things, but until then he needs to humble himself and seek wisdom both of which he, at this time, lacks.”
Robb had additional reason to be upset with Heimbach. As Robb led a prayer at dinner immediately following the presentation, Orthodox attendees, including Heimbach, reportedly interrupted his grace with a prayer of their own.
The issues with Heimbach’s ever-evolving extremism go far beyond his presentation, and, in fact, have garnered him support with other groups on the radical right, namely the League of the South (LOS), the neo-Confederate group where Heimbach began his racist journey.
Heimbach was recently promoted to Assistant Head of the Training Department within the LOS, a new branch of the LOS focused on creating materials to give to new members to help them understand “Southern Nationalism” and the objectives of the neo-confederate hate group. Those objectives, according to LOS President Dr. Michael Hill in the essay “Our Survival As A People,” include fighting “the ultimate compromise of racial extinction through miscegenation.”
The hacker collective Anonymous has launched a campaign to target the Ku Klux Klan following the group’s claim they will use “lethal force” against protestors in Ferguson, Mo., where racial tensions have boiled for months after police killed a black teenager there.
The operation, known on Twitter as #OpKKK, has targeted local Klan members by publicly identifying them through social media, as well as taking over the Missouri Klan group’s Twitter account. As of today, for example, the information on the Klan’s twitter account read, “Under anon control as of 16 NOV 2014 09:11:47. You should’ve expected us.”
In a video statement posted to YouTube, Anonymous claimed the KKK was targeted because of its threats to use violence in the town where Michael Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in August, not because of the Klan’s white nationalist beliefs.
“Due to your actions we started Operation KKK,” Anonymous claimed in a video. “The aim of our operation is nothing more than Cyber Warfare. Anything you upload will be taken down, anything you use to promote the KKK will be shut down.”
The action comes in the wake of the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK distributing fliers in Ferguson saying that protestors had “awakened a sleeping giant,” and that demonstrators have threatened the lives of law enforcement, the community and their families, Huffington Post reported.
“We will not sit by and allow you to harm our families, communities, property nor disrupt our daily lives. Your right to freedom of speech does not give you the right to terrorize citizens,” the flier read. “We will use lethal force as provided under Missouri Law to defend ourselves. … You have been warned by the Ku Klux Klan! There will be consequences for your actions against the peaceful, law abiding citizens of Missouri.”
Frank Ancona, the leader of the KKK chapter in Missouri, defended the Klan’s objective to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes by explaining, “There are remedies under the law. The flier, if you read it, it says ‘defend,’ it talks about defense. So, in order to defend yourself, that means you’re being attacked.”
This isn’t the first time the hacktivist group has gone after the racist radical right. In 2012, Anonymous declared “Operation Blitzkrieg” against neo-Nazi and other hate group websites—a program that inflicted unprecedented damage on many of the racist sites and releasing an avalanche of personal information about supporters.
John Abarr has an idea for the Ku Klux Klan that has attracted a lot of attention: He says he wants to reform the hate group to make a more “inclusive” KKK open to Jews, black people, and gays and lesbians—a “Rainbow Klan,” as it were.
There’s just one problem: While Abar has had no problem attracting media coverage, his Rocky Mountain Knights of the Ku Klux Klan doesn’t appear to have followers beyond a handful, and he has zero credibility within the national Klan organizations.
Word of Abarr’s idea appeared in a story in the Great Falls Tribune, which featured Abarr holding forth on the idea of a kinder, gentler Ku Klux Klan: “The KKK is for a strong America,” he told the paper. “White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan.” The story then appeared in USA Today, and inspired a round of stories in the Washington Post, the U.K.’s Daily Mail, the International Business Times, The Forward and Think Progress.
A recent ABC News piece, however, cast a skeptical note, quoting Rachel Carroll-Rivas, co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, who has monitored Abarr’s various activities since he distributed racist flyers agitating for “white homeland” in the Northwest, and ran for Congress as a Klan candidate.
Carroll-Rivas told Hatewatch that, as far as her organization can tell, Abarr is pretty much just a one-man bandwagon.
“We’ve seen no evidence that he has a membership or following as far as any version of a KKK group, affiliated or not,” she said. “I think Abarr primarily is pretty much by himself.”
This is not Abarr’s first foray in grabbing headlines, however. In 1989, when he was the 19-year-old campaign spokesman for white-supremacist candidate William Daniel Johnson during a failed bid for the Wyoming congressional seat of Dick Cheney, Abarr told reporters then that the Klan was “basically a civil rights organization that stands up for the rights of white people.”
Twenty-two years later, Abarr ran for Congress in Montana, though he shuttered his campaign after only six months. More recently, Abarr again grabbed headlines by holding a meeting with members of the NAACP at a hotel in Wyoming, claiming he wanted to find a way to get along with blacks.
“They’re all media gimmicks,” Carroll-Rivas said. “Clearly it’s not real. He’s just trying to figure out a way to get in there between the lines.”
The “inclusive” Klan notion is risible, she added.
“I think he’s a farce in terms of what he’s saying right now,” she said. “What he’s doing is somewhat self-promotion, but I also think he’s happy to spread the word of hate, and find a way to bring it attention.”
Indeed, Abarr’s concept was largely met with roars of laughter and general disbelief at the white-supremacist website Stormfront, where a thread devoted to the Tribune story attracted a large number of comments:
What can I say? This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard of. What next? (Corn Feed White Boy)
This is crazy, you sure this is a real kkk ? (laidbackguy71)
Even looks like a fag. Kick him out in the black part of Denver…with his “robe” on, assuming they even retain that. (Buzz)
Sounds like some pervert joined a klan under false pretenses and got tired of wearing women’s clothing behind closed doors and going to gay bars with fake mustaches. (Paladin Steel)
One group doesn’t speak for all, this is nothing but anti-Klan propaganda and anyone falling for this is a fool. (Central Michigan)
One Stormfront commenter queried among his fellow white supremacists whether any from Montana even knew of Abarr or had heard of them. One, a “white nationalist” from Columbia Falls, replied: “Nope, he has nothing to do with anyone I know.”
Carroll-Rivas observed that the reason Abarr is able to manipulate the press is that people are well aware what the Klan really stands for.
“It goes to show how strong that label still is, the KKK,” she told Hatewatch. “And I think he understands the power that that label has. And it should, because it instills fear in people, for real reasons.”
Prosecutors are now reviewing all pending criminal cases involving a Charleston, W.V., police lieutenant who was suspended last month when a racially charged video surfaced of his young daughter dancing to a song popular with the Ku Klux Klan as the officer allegedly eggs her on off camera.
The officer, Shawn Williams, a 16-year veteran of the department and the head of the patrol division, allegedly can be heard on the video using “derogatory racial language,” according to The Charleston Gazette, which interviewed two people who said they saw the recording.
On the video, which was discovered on Williams’ home computer, the girl is dressed in police-style clothing and, according to the Gazette, dancing, to a KKK anthem that includes the lines, “Stand up and be counted, show the world that you’re a man. Stand up and be counted, go with the Ku Klux Klan.”
Members of the New Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) from three separate states have announced plans to travel to Ferguson, Missouri, to guard “white businesses” near riots that have erupted after a police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“With blacks out of control, we have our Missouri Realm going to areas near Ferguson,” wrote Charles Murray, the group’s Imperial Wizard. “We can’t have blacks robbing and murdering innocent whites.”
This is only latest from the Klan, which has sought to capitalize on the violence and discord in Ferguson. Last week it announced that their members would travel to Sullivan, Missouri, to prepare for a fundraiser for “a cop who shot a nigger criminal.” The KKK group has not said which state’s chapters are heading to Missouri.
The one thing the racially charged and besieged city of Ferguson, Mo. does not need or want to add to the combustible mix of rubber bullets, snarling police dogs and clouds of tear gas that have filled its streets for three days is the Ku Klux Klan.
But the Klan –– desperate for publicity and any opportunity to spread hate and terror –– is climbing atop the powder keg that Ferguson has become following the police killing of an unarmed college-bound black teenager last Saturday.
The South Carolina-based New Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan says its Missouri chapter is raising money for the still unidentified white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, who was scheduled to begin college classes this week.
“We are setting up a reward/fund for the police officer who shot this thug,” the Klan group said in an email. “He is a hero! We need more white cops who are anti-Zog and willing to put Jewish controlled black thugs in their place. Most cops are cowards and do nothing while 90% of interracial crime is black (and non-white) on white.” ( continue to full post… )
With thousands of undocumented children amassing at the U.S. border, Robert Jones, Imperial Wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, doesn’t want amnesty. He wants “corpses” on the border.
Speaking to Al Jazeera America, Jones, in full Klan robes, warned that immigrant children crossing the border are a threat to a “white homeland” and simply one more way President Obama has “sold out the American people.”
“If we can’t turn them back, I think if we pop a couple of them off and leave their corpses laying at the border maybe they’ll see we’re serious about stopping immigration,” Jones said.
The situation at the border has intensified in recent weeks as violence has forced many families to help their children cross the border for safety –– an option available due to legislation signed by President George W. Bush that gave new protections to children entering the country by prohibiting them from being quickly sent back to their country of origin, the New York Times reported in early July. In response, militia members armed with assault rifles have once again begun border patrols, and groups like the Klan, long obsessed with a white homeland, have focused their hate toward the border once again.
In the winter of 2009, a young patrolman named James W. Elkins was forced to resign from the 12-officer Fruitland Park, Florida police department when it was discovered he was a recruiter for and high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan.
After Elkins turned in his badge, the police chief at the time, J.M. Isom, declared, “I can guarantee you that none of my police officers who work here are members of the KKK.”
“That was completely wrong,” Elkins told Hatewatch today. “They knew I wasn’t the only one then. They just swept it under the rug. I hope they don’t get away with doing it again.”
Over the weekend, the Fruitland Park police department’s deputy chief, David Borst, 49, resigned and another longtime department veteran, Cpl. George Hunnewell, was fired because of their alleged membership in the same group Elkins belonged, the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The current police chief, Terry Isaacs, told Hatewatch today that both officers “emphatically deny” being in the Klan, adding that he was tipped off to their possible membership by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI.
Isaacs said the FBI discovered the officers’ alleged Klan involvement in the course of an investigation that he believes stretches across the country and even overseas. He said he did not know the nature of the investigation but was assured that his department was not a target.
He said prosecutors are reviewing the cases that the two officers have pending, and “if these cases don’t stand on their own, my recommendation is that they drop them.” An as-yet-unknown number of cases could be in jeopardy.
Elkins, 33, estimated that at least four members of the department belonged to the Klan when five years ago he was patrolling the streets of Fruitland Park. The city, 48 miles from Orlando in central Florida, is popular with retirees and has a population of 4,000. He added that “probably 10 out of the 12 fulltime officers” were sympathetic to the Klan. ( continue to full post… )