The KKK targets area, state

Gary Munker of the Loyal White Knights of the Klu Klux Klan reads a passage about Jews from the King James Bible during a recent interview in a Gloversville woods. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series of the local presence of the Klu Klux Klan and its efforts to infiltrate and divide the community. Part III will run on Tuesday.

GLOVERSVILLE — Stepping up efforts to attract new Ku Klux Klan members from this area is not without some calculation.

“There’s a recruitment effort going on in New York,” North Carolina-based KKK Grand Dragon Robert Jones told The Leader-Herald last week.

The secret, centuries-old movement that advocates extremist reactionary positions such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, is trying hard to spike its local numbers.

According to the non-profit, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, the Ku Klux Klan and its long history of violence is the most infamous — and oldest — of American so-called “hate” groups. The center says the Klan is entrenched in upstate New York.

“Although black Americans have typically been the Klan’s primary target, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics,” the center website says.

A magnetic card from the “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” was affixed to The Leader-Herald’s outside newspaper dispenser on East Fulton Street, and discovered by staff Sept. 24. The card advertises itself as the “Realm of New York” component of the KKK, based in Pelham, N.C. It advertises a Klan hotline.

Jones said several people have been passing out flyers and leaving messages throughout the Fulton County area for weeks.

“Whites are really starting to wake up,” Jones said.

Molly Christian of Gloversville has been a KKK member the past four years. She identifies herself as a “kleagle” in New York state — an officer of the Ku Klux Klan whose main role is to recruit new members. Her husband is Ben Christian, president of the KKK’s Realm of New York.

“We’re not trying to scare people,” Christian says. “We just want white America to wake up.”

Molly Christian, originally from Canajoharie, has been to about 20 to 30 KKK meetings in her four years with the movement. She claims the meetings are held in the “deep, deep woods of Fulton County.”

“We’re white Christian Americans,” she said. “We believe in what we believe in.”

Christian said the Klan is actually a “family-oriented” organization, trying to shed a light on criminal activity by what they perceive to be minorities.

“We’re not like everybody says we are,’ she said. “It’s not that we hate blacks. It’s just that we hate what they do.”

Christian said you have to be 18 to be a Klan member, and the current oldest member in Fulton County is probably about 70 years old.

“Nobody really knows anybody unless you tell them you’re part of the Klan,” she said.

Christian said she has worked “odd jobs” to help support her family. Asked what KKK members discuss in their meetings, she said members are actually all about helping to stem epic problems in the area.

“Fulton County has a big drug problem — heroin and opioid addiction,” she said. “We’re trying to reach out and help these people.”

Also on the afternoon of Sept. 24 — the same day the card was left — a message was left on the newspaper’s voice mail. The caller identified himself as the “consultant cyclops” of New York State of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He didn’t identify himself by name.

“We are here,” the message states. “We are growing. Gloversville is full of Klan members. Fulton County is full of Klan members. We are all over New York state. We are not going to stop.”

The caller takes exception to a Sept. 10 Letter to the Editor. He said the writer was incorrect to say there is “no room in Gloversville” for the KKK.

The letter, in part, read that the writer “witnessed two people with white supremacist clothing out in public. One was a man sporting a ‘White Pride World Wide’ T-shirt, and the other was a young man in a camouflage jacket prominently featuring KKK and swastika patches on the shoulders. These open displays of hate indicate to me that white supremacists feel comfortable in our community.”

The letter writer called on the public to denounce the KKK.

The Sept. 24 caller to The Leader-Herald went on to urge the public to call the KKK hotline.

A call placed recently to the number produced another recorded message scolding lukewarm KKK supporters who never followed through with recent KKK events. One asks the callers where they were during the violent Aug. 12 Charlottesville, Va. rally. One person was killed and 19 hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a “Unite the Right” rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled to take place.

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is based in Pelham, N.C.. Members of the group were in Charlottesville as a part of the demonstration.

The KKK recording also asks where the support was when Black Panthers in South Carolina “took our flag.”

“Always, remember,” the recording ends. “If it ain’t white, it ain’t right … White power.”

The recording mentions a name, Chris Barker, and urges people to visit KKK’s website.

Barker, a KKK imperial wizard, after the Charlottesville incident told a local TV station in Virginia it didn’t matter there was a death.

“When a couple of them die, it doesn’t bother us,” Barker said. “They’re always attacking and messing with our rallies.”

Grand Dragon Jones called The Leader-Herald back to say that he is one of several people who respond to the hotline set up for people to call. He said KKK influence is growing by leaps and bounds.

“It’s all of New York,” Jones said. “It’s in every state except North Dakota and Wyoming.”

Jones said the KKK is often portrayed in a negative light because Jews “control” the media. He said that the KKK is unfairly lumped in when national news stories make headlines, such as the case of Dylann Roof. He said the American white supremacist and mass murderer convicted in December 2016 of perpetrating the Charleston, S.C. church shooting on June 17, 2015 was not a member of the KKK.

“It’s a double standard,” Jones said of news coverage.

He said the Klan remains “the invisible empire.”

He said Klan meetings are sometimes held in “lodges” in this area, but he can’t publicize when and where. But Jones feels “now is a good time” to recruit for the KKK, and numbers are swelling, especially in states such as Texas and Florida.

Jones said the media doesn’t publicize the problems immigration causes in America, and the “black-on-white crime all the time,” instead focusing on police shootings of blacks. With the advent of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the United States, the KKK grand dragon said whites are “more eager” than ever to join the KKK.

President Donald Trump’s influence involving groups such as the KKK is limited, Jones claims. He said federal judges are making decisions on immigration and Trump is powerless.

“I think our president’s hands are pretty much tied,” he said.

He said Trump should have installed “his own cabinet” instead of a cabinet suggested by others that now includes several Jews.

“Trump can’t be a racist,” Jones said. “He has too many Jews in his cabinet.”

Jones also decried Nimrata “Nikki” Haley — the 29th and current United States UN ambassador tapped by Trump — who has American Indian heritage.

Editor’s note: The Leader-Herald does not support the Klu Klux Klan. These articles are meant to empower the local community, to report on an issue that affects everyone. Please see Sunday and Monday’s editorials.