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Ku Klux Klan

(1865 - )

Though currently suffering its greatest decline since the 1940s, with its three most prominent national units of the era-the United Clans of America, the Invisible Empire Knights of the KKK, and the Knights of the KKK-either defunct or factionalized, America's oldest hate group, the Ku Klux Klan, established originally on December 24, 1865, continues to operate on a local level, in some instances still engaging in illegal acts of violence and intimidation. Local Klan factions active today include:

The Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan: Formed in 1985 by Virgil Griffin and based in Mount Holly, North Carolina. The Christian Knights are active in North and South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. A suspect in two June 1995 arsons of predominately Black South Carolina churches-part of an apparent epidemic of church arsons occurring throughout the country since January 1995-carried a card identifying him as a member of the Christian Knights.

The Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan: A breakaway faction from the now-defunct Invisible Empire Knights of the KKK, the Keystone Knights was founded by Barry Black in 1992 and is based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The Keystone Knights publish an anti-Jewish, anti-Black newsletter called The Keystone American.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Arkansas Faction): The Harrison, Arkansas-based Knights of the KKK, led by Thom Robb, is the largest and most active Klan faction operating in the nation today. Nonetheless, a rash of schisms and defections in 1994 has contributed to a dramatic decline in the Knights' numbers; from a total of approximately 1,000 members three years ago, the Knights today can claim a hard-core membership of at most 500, spread across seven states. In addition to traditional KKK activities, Thom Robb also maintains a Klan Web site on the computer Internet.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Michigan Faction): A splinter group in Thom Robb's Knights formed in August 1994 when three Klan officers in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois claimed the Knights' name for themselves and declared Robb "deposed" as national director. Robb responded by expelling the three from the Knights. The Michigan faction of the Knights today maintains an even lower profile than the Arkansas branch.

Federation of Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan: The Federation of Klans was formed in April 1994 by Chicagoan Ed Novak (né Ed Melkonian) following his defection from the Knights of the KKK. Though originally making significant inroads among Klansmen at the start of his defection, Novak has engaged in little organizing since 1994, and today Federation of Klans membership stands at no more than 50 people across five states.

Knights of the White Camellia Ku Klux Klan: The Knights of the White Camellia, a Texas Klan group led by Charles Lee, along with the Texas chapter of Thom Robb's Knights of the KKK, has been linked to a number of incidents of racial intimidation and harassment in Vidor, Texas. These incidents, which occurred in 1992 and 1993, involved efforts to prevent the desegregation of an all-white Federally assisted housing project in Vidor. Among the reported acts of intimidation was the threat to blow up a housing unit to prevent its integration; residents of the project additionally alleged that the White Camellia Knights carried automatic weapons on a bus they drove through the housing complex and that one Klan member offered white children $50 to beat up African-American children. The Texas Commission on Human Rights has brought a civil suit against both Klan groups in response to these incidents.

Source: Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents 1996, Copyright Anti-Defamation League (ADL). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.