- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Update provided by The Kentucky Standard
Landmark News Service
Residents in northern Washington County awoke recently to find recruiting materials for the Ku Klux Klan in their yards.
According to The Springfield Sun, sometime between late July 19 and early July 20, plastic sandwich bags containing recruitment fliers for the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a single white rock to weight it down were distributed in the communities of Mackville, Texas and Willisburg.
The fliers made mention of the “communist government” of the United States and listed the group’s website and a phone number to call, according to The Sun.
The Sun reported there was no indication of who distributed the fliers. In an email to The Kentucky Standard in response to an inquiry, the group’s leader, Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona of Potosi, Mo., took credit for the distribution.
“They are indeed legitimately distributed by the Traditionalist American Knights,” Ancona said in an email.
The Traditionalist American Knights is one of 27 different named groups scattered throughout the country under the KKK banner and tracked by The Southern Poverty Law Center.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow with SPLC, which tracks hate groups, said the Traditionalist Knights are one of the smallest of the groups they track, with seven chapters, also known as klaverns.
Potok said the Traditionalists and another group have captured headlines nationally and internationally with similar leafleting campaigns, but for the most part that is the extent of their activity.
“There’s no evidence at all that Klan groups are growing,” Potok said.
Klan membership nationwide numbers between 4,000 and 6,000, probably on the low end of that range, he said. That is down from 4 million in the 1920s and 40,000 during the Civil Rights Movement era.
“This is really typical of the Klan,” Potok said of the Washington County leafleting.
He said even other hate groups look down on the Klan as unsophisticated and ignorant. He said the different groups are mostly competing against one another in recruiting new members.
“Basically, these Klan groups don’t grow, they just swap members.”
The Traditionalists are based in Missouri. The other six klaverns listed by the SPLC are all in Texas, in Houston, Bryan, Waco, Lone Oak, Greensville and Mount Pleasant.
The Traditionalists have recently leafleted other areas, including in Iowa, Alabama and Tennessee. Potok said the group typically targets small communities.
In Kentucky, the SPLC tracks three Klan groups in four cities: the Ku Klos Knights in Munfordville; two klaverns of Loyal White Knights in Glens Fork; and the New Empire Knights in Corbin.
Potok said many Americans still think of the Klan as a large organized group, but that just isn’t the case anymore. In reality, it is 27 little Klans all competing against one another for the small pool of potential members.
He said in 2010, the SPLC tracked 221 chapters of the KKK. By 2013, that number had dropped to 163. Recent recruitment efforts by some Klan groups have whittled the number of groups down further this year, and Potok said by the end of 2014 there would probably be around 150 chapters nationwide.
“These groups really just cannibalize each other,” Potok said.
Residents in northern Washington County woke last Sunday to find a small package in their driveways, and many have expressed displeasure with the message that was sent.
Some time late Saturday (July 19) night or early Sunday morning, plastic sandwich bags containing a flier were distributed throughout Mackville, Texas and Willisburg, and the message was that of a recruiting effort for the Ku Klux Klan.
Each flier was weighted down with a small, white stone and left no indication of who distributed them.
According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, several residents submitted complaints over the past week, but none have warranted any type of charges.
The fliers made mention of America’s “communist government” and encouraged residents to join the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. They included a phone number and web site for the group.
Judy Parm, a resident of Mackville, said regardless of what the flier says about political views, the true intentions of whoever left the packages are clear.
“There is a lot of anger out there about government and other things, and that’s how they might bring people in, but let’s face it, that’s not what they’re really about,” she said. “It’s a hate-based organization.
When things like this are brought to the light, that’s how you can stamp out this kind of stuff.”
The web site listed on the fliers is brandished with KKK insignias and Confederate flags, and contains content focusing on “white culture and heritage.”
“Our mission is to preserve our white culture and heritage but also be relevant to the happenings going on in our Republic today,” the site states. “We must defeat these communist socialist anti-God anti-white anti American enemies within our own borders.
“It is essential that we wake as many of our fellow White citizens up as quickly as possible and recruit them to our cause,” it continued.
That message, which is signed by Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona, is just a portion of the propaganda displayed on the site.
Of the message, Parm said it’s important to remember that these types of organizations still exist, even if they seem decades past their time.
“We would hate to think in 2014 that these things exist, but they do,” she said. “Hate is always looking for a place to fester and grow, unfortunately. If we don’t do our part, it will spread.”
As the unknown courier or couriers attempt to spread their unwelcome message, they have also brought about a sense of fear.
“It’s faceless, it’s littering and it scares the elderly people in Mackville,” Ken Young said.
On the web site are PDFs of various fliers used by the group, including the one that was distributed throughout northern Washington County last weekend. One of the more striking fliers even targeted the youth, with the statement, “We Want Your Children!” emblazoned across the top in an attempt to recruit for the Junior Ku Klux Klan (boys) and the Tri-K-Klub (girls).
Darrell Allen, a Mackville resident, provided The Sun with a statement that reiterated that while freedom of speech should be observed, the message of the KKK and any religious tokens they adopt do not reflect on the religious beliefs of the majority.
The First Amendment guarantees that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” As an American citizen and as a Christian I stand for the right of the KKK and others to freely express their beliefs. I choose to exercise my right to free speech as well. The KKK has historically been made up of White Protestants. The group has opposed African-Americans and Jews, at times even resorting to violence against those groups.
Hate for others is not Christian. Christ says, “This is my command: Love each other (John 15:17, NIV; emphasis mine).” Christ invites all to come to Him: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink (John 7:37, NIV).” In Christ there is “neither Jew nor Gentile . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28, NIV).” Christ loves all people because they are created in His image and He died for them. His church must do the same in order to be faithful witnesses for Him.
Others in the community, who chose not to be identified, expressed uneasiness about the potential presence of one or more Klan members in the area and disbelief that the organization is still spreading its message in the 21st Century. Parm, however, said the followers remaining followers of the Ku Klux Klan, though few in number, are still among us.
“I just really hope that it wakes people up to realize that these people still exist,” Parm said. “They could sit beside us at church and be in front or behind us in line at the grocery store. You hate to think about it, but these people are our neighbors.”