*On April 29, 2016, African-American news reporter Chris Thomas of Central Virginia’s NBC 12 nabbed an exclusive interview with the leadership of the Ku Klux Klan’s Virginia chapter to investigate the increase in hate groups nationwide. Thomas was invited to a secluded Jefferson National Forest location by the Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights to discuss the organization, its newest recruitment tactics, Klan political leanings and more in a two-hour interview supervised by local deputies.
NBC 12 launched an investigation into the Klan’s activities and increased popularity after being informed of a local recruitment drive that included fliers reading “I want you for the KKK,” which were placed on fences and mailboxes throughout Richmond, Virginia. In Thomas’ exchange with the unidentified Klan wizard, the chapter leader described the present-day Klan as “kinder” and “gentler” and he stated the group is “not a hate group” and admitted that many of the Klan’s well-known acts of violence “could have been handled differently.” He added, “We are not white supremacists, we’re white separatists. We’re not the big bad hate group people think we are.”
Though the Klan leader claims the organization has shifted its focus more to politics rather than race, he does admit that since taking elected office “[President Barack Obama] has been a very good recruiting tool for [the] organization.” When Thomas asked about the chapter’s thoughts on Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, the group leader shared, “A lot of what he believes, we believe in,” and he expressed the group’s shared desire to keep the country safe.
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Non-profit legal and civil rights advocacy organization The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released the findings of a study citing 32 hate groups in Virginia alone, indicating a rise in these groups nationwide. The Center defines a hate group as any whose “beliefs or practices … attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
After viewing NBC 12’s footage of the anonymous Klan leader, Richmond NAACP Education Chairman Marty Jewell reacted with skepticism saying, “To this day, they [the Klan] have not disavowed themselves as being domestic terrorists. That’s who they are. They are still present with us today, and they keep secret. Everything is done in secret. You don’t need to be secret if you have good intentions.” He added that he believe Klan members are attracted to Trump because “he is zenophobic.” Readers might remember controversy that erupted in February 2016 as Trump hesitated to distance himself from an endorsement from Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.
At the conclusion of his exclusive, Thomas asked his interviewee if he could attend a private Klan rally, but was staunchly denied supposedly because the group holds “bible studies.” To check out the full interview, click here.
Source: YouTube/NBC 12