The Missouri KKK has turned the shooting death of Michael Brown into a recruiting drive and threatened to use violence, but 2014 was already a story of extremists trying to enlarge their organizations. Beginning with a fizzled militia event on the National Mall and graduating into nativist anti-immigration actions during the Summer, this year of reactionary politics also reportedly saw a nationwide recruiting effort by the Ku Klux Klan.
After an initial burst of growth with President Obama’s inauguration, the nation’s oldest and best-known white supremacist movement suffered declining participation in recent years as its agenda was largely sublimated into Republican politics. The once-great ‘invisible empire’ was in need of fresh membership.
One sign of their efforts this year is the uptick in news reports of KKK recruiting flyers. Klan recruiting flyers were already being reported around the country before the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Since late July, they have shown up in Havre County, Montana, Karrick, Pennsylvania, Hamilton, Ohio, East Texas, Harris County, Texas, Springfield, Indiana, Eunice, Louisiana, Bentonville, Arkansas, Union County, Florida, and elsewhere.
But ever since the killing of Michael Brown, the Klan has consciously nationalized around the defense of white supremacy in American policing, and the largest Klan organization in that state has risen to national prominence. In late October, flyers from the Missouri Klan organization turned up in Prattville, Alabama.
The single sheets of paper, which could best be described as a recruitment effort, read that they were distributed by the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The group is based in Park Hills, Mo..
The effort was for recruiting, said Frank Ancona, Imperial Wizard of the group. Local chapter members handled the distribution, he said. The Traditionalist American Knights have chapters in each of the lower 48 states and five chapters in Alabama, he said.
“Colleges recruit students, churches recruit new members, police department recruit new officers, recruiting is the life blood of an organization,” Ancona said. “The Klan has been here more than 150 years, we have been recruiting not only in Alabama, but Georgia and Florida as well.
“The fliers spell out what we stand for and what type of people we want to attract.”
The ‘invisible empire’ has traditionally made law enforcement agencies a primary target for infiltration, as there is always a corrupt despotism under the hooded exterior (here’s a pretty good summation of that history in a PDF file). In a sign of just how pervasive the Missouri Klan may actually be these days, this weekend a group of St. Louis police officers were exposed as hood-wearing Klansmen via their social media activities by an Anonymous Twitter account.
Given that Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown dead, was previously employed by a Missouri police department which was entirely fired and replaced due to deep racial distrust with the community it served, you have to wonder just how deep the relationship between racist police and the glaring racial disparity of police shootings really is. You also have to imagine that some departments could potentially be the local ‘reservoirs’ of Klan activity.
FRUITLAND PARK, FLA. — Residents of this small town have been stunned by an investigative report linking two city police officers with the Ku Klux Klan, the secret hate society that once was violently active in the area.
How common is that bizarre story? How big is this problem? Like this DailyKos writer, I watched the above interview of ‘Imperial Wizard’ Ancona on All In with Chris Hayes and was keenly interested in the part almost five minutes into the segment where the host asks Ancona if he’s spoken with anyone in law enforcement. The ensuing verbal dance, in which Ancona seems to indicate that he has contacts within police ranks, is all the more troubling in this context. It also makes those threats against bloggers who cover the KKK-Anonymous war all the more alarming. The FBI is warning us that extremists might try to cause trouble after the grand jury makes its decision, but what about the extremists wearing badges?