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Ku Klux Klan - Criminal Activity and Violence
The first incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan in the 19th century originated as a terrorist group and the Klan has had a high association with criminal activity ever since, with most of it centered on hate crimes and acts of domestic terrorism. In a Supreme Court dissent he authored in 2003, Justice Clarence Thomas characterized the Klan as a “terrorist organization, which, in its endeavor to intimidate, or even eliminate those it dislikes, uses the most brutal of methods.” The Klan is known for terrorism, murder, and assault, all stemming from its basic hate-based ideology, but Klansmen also commit a wide variety of non-hate-related crimes, largely because of the criminal milieu from which it draws portions of its membership.

Most Klan hate crimes tend to target African-Americans or multiracial families or couples. In April 2003, for example, five members of the American Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted in federal court in Louisiana on conspiracy and intimidation charges for burning a cross at the residence of three African-American men in Longville, Louisiana. The five men, who all pleaded guilty, had burned the cross in an attempt to coerce the victims into leaving the community. “Our general purpose was just to rid them from the neighborhood,” Fuselier explained in court. All three victims moved out.

At the sentencing in that case, U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon emphasized the malevolent role that the Klan plays in the United States, saying that “while foreign terrorists would kill our bodies and destroy our buildings, the American Invisible Empire and the Ku Klux Klan and what they stand for and the type of conduct these defendants engaged in to rid themselves of their black neighbors, attacks our nation’s very soul.”

Klan members sometimes also engage in acts of domestic terrorism. In March 2006, for example, six members of the Nation’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan pleaded guilty to a variety of weapons and conspiracy charges in connection with an illegal gun trading scheme in the early 2000s to finance a plan to blow up the Johnston County, North Carolina, courthouse.

In August 2005, North Georgia White Knights member Daniel James Schertz pleaded guilty to building pipe bombs designed to blow up buses carrying Mexican and Haitian migrant workers from Tennessee to Florida. In November 2005, he received a 170-month federal prison sentence.

Schertz was hardly alone. In 2003, Pennsylvania Klan leader David Hull was convicted of a variety of illegal weapons charges in connection with an alleged plot to use hand grenades to attack abortion clinics; he also allegedly told an informant that he had turned his car into a “suicide bomb on wheels.”

In 1997, in one of the more spectacular cases, three Klansmen and a Klanswoman—Edward Taylor, Jr., Shawn Dee Adams, Catherine Dee Adams, and Carl Waskom, Jr.—were arrested for plotting a series of terrorist acts in north Texas, including an attack on a natural gas processing plant. This would merely serve as a diversion for a $2 million armored car robbery designed to finance further acts. While surveilling the natural gas refinery, Klan members noticed children nearby and realized they would be likely victims of a blast. “But if it has to be,” Catherine Dee Adams said, in words caught on tape, “I hate to be that way, but if it has to be…” However, because another Klan member had reservations and alerted the police, the plot was foiled before it could be carried out. The four were arrested in April 1997 and eventually pleaded guilty to a variety of charges.

Klan members have also frequently been arrested for non-ideological crimes ranging from burglary to sex crimes to spousal assault. These arrests suggest that a number of Klan groups tend to attract people with violent or anti-social natures.
Untitled Document
The Ku Klux Klan Rebounds
About the Ku Klux Klan
Recent Developments:
Changes in Longstanding Groups
New Klan Groups Emerging
Geographic Expansion
Ideology
Affiliations
New Tactics
Criminal Activity
and Violence
Active Groups by State
Slide Show
History
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