Ku Klux Klan Seen Gaining Strength

By Forward Staff

Published February 09, 2007, issue of February 09, 2007.

After years of dwindling activity, the Ku Klux Klan is staging a comeback, according to a newly released report from the Anti-Defamation League.

The report, “Extremism in America: Ku Klux Klan,” found that the notorious white-supremacist group has re-emerged in the past year as a potent force. The ADL, which monitors hate groups, found that the KKK has made inroads in America through its exploitation of the hot-button issue of immigration.

The report also found that the Klan has expanded geographically into areas not previously infiltrated by the 142-year old right-wing hate group. “Immigration and other issues have allowed these longstanding Klan groups to increase their activities in areas where the Klan has traditionally been strong, such as the eastern Midwest and the South, and to expand into some parts of the country where the Klan did not have a particularly strong presence in the early 2000s, including the Great Plains and Mid-Atlantic states,” the report said.

Other divisive issues that the racist movement has used to bolster its ranks include gay marriage, perceived threats to Christianity and crime. The group’s growing influence can be attributed to the decline of neo-Nazi groups, as well, which had begun to overshadow the Klan in the late 1990s.

Increasingly, the report found, the Klan is using publicity stunts to get its message across. One chapter, the Michigan-based United Northern and Southern Knights, sent racist fliers to schoolteachers during Black History Month. Another group, the Empire Knights, created KKK Radio, which broadcasts white-power music and racist and antisemitic propaganda over the Internet.

According to the ADL report, the Empire Knights are a prominent example of another growing phenomenon: the rapid expansion of newer factions. The Empire Knights formed in 2005 and expanded from Florida into the Mid-Atlantic states and up to Oregon. “In January 2007,” the report said, “it boasted chapters in 18 states.” In Texas, where the Empire Knights have a strong foothold, the group staged a widely publicized anti-immigration rally in Amarillo.

But the report said that not all Klan chapters have been as successful in their expansion. After Jeff Berry, a leader of an Indiana chapter of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted in 2001 for conspiracy to commit criminal confinement with a deadly weapon for holding two reporters at gunpoint, the faction fell apart.



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