Friday, February 09, 2007

Immigration becomes KKK rallying point

By Theodore Kim and Emily Bazar, USA TODAY
The Ku Klux Klan is stepping up its activities in some parts of the country, a trend that its leaders and opponents tie to anti-immigrant sentiment.

In the past year, the Klan has rallied or distributed fliers in Bloomington, Ind.; Amarillo, Texas; Denison, Iowa; and elsewhere. In each case, the white-supremacist group denounced illegal immigration or targeted communities with growing immigrant populations.

"It surprised me they came," says police Sgt. Randy TenBrink in Amarillo, site of a rally in August by the Texas chapter of the Empire Knights of the KKK. It is the only local KKK rally he knows of in 30 years. "The content of their message surprised me. It was so disjointed."

The Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism and racism, released a report this week citing "a surprising and troubling resurgence" of KKK activity by long-standing and new groups. "They use this immigration issue to bring in others who feel like America is under siege," says Deborah Lauter, the ADL's national civil rights director. "It's easy for hate to spread."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, also has charted an overall increase in KKK activity and says anti-immigrant sentiment is a primary driver, says Mark Potok, director of the center's tracking operation. The number of KKK groups rose from 110 in 2000 to 179 in 2005 but fell to about 150 last year, Potok says.

The behavior parallels the periods after Sept. 11, 2001, and the launch of the Iraq war in 2003. Extremist groups recruited new members by targeting Muslims, says William Aponte, the FBI's supervisory special agent for civil rights.

Phil Lawson, who says his title is "imperial wizard" of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the KKK, would not give membership numbers but says his group is growing.

He says last year it distributed 6,000 anti-immigrant newsletters in Bloomington and other Indiana communities calling for a rally and blaming illegal workers for taking jobs.

"Everyday that our government allows this Illegal Mexican Invasion to continue, our membership numbers continue to grow in the KKK," he says in an e-mail responding to questions.

In Denison, KKK members put recruitment fliers on parked cars in August, Police Chief Rod Bradley says. Storm Lake, Iowa, also was targeted.

Bradley says, "The two communities they targeted in western Iowa are both communities that have seen an influx of immigrants in the last 10 years."

Kim reports daily for The Indianapolis Star

USA Today


Anonymous said...

Like.... are the KKK members Native-Americans? If not go back to your country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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