Just when you think the Ku Klux Klan – with its sordid history of racism and violence – is a thing of the past, it rears its ugly, white-sheet-hooded head.
In the aftermath of the tragic killings at Jewish Community Centers in Kansas City on April 13 – and reports that the accused gunman belonged to a KKK group in North Carolina – you wanted to see if there is other news about the KKK in contemporary America.
So you set up a Google Alert – as part of an infogathering method you call Google Frecking — for the Ku Klux Klan, imagining you might get a dozen or so obscure hits over the week. As of today, you have received scores and scores and the alerts just keep coming.
Here is what a week of watching the KKK in 2014 has taught you:
1) Rebranding the KKK: Around the time you triggered the Google Alerts, CNN asked the incendiary question: Can This KKK Leader Rebrand? The story quoted Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona saying, "I believe in racial separation but it doesn't have to be violent ... People in the Klan are professional people, business people, working types. We are a legitimate organization." Frecking turned up passionate responses from The Daily Kos and other sites.
2) Disguised Klansman: Richard Williams, father of superstellar tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, has written an autobiography Black and White: The Way I See It, according to the New York Daily News. In it, he tells the story of putting on KKK garb as a young man — in his hometown of Shreveport, La. – and hitting a couple of white people with a stick.
3) Ads for the KKK: Residents in Fairview Township, Pa., reported to Penn Live that the KKK recently distributed fliers announcing a Klan-sponsored Neighborhood Watch to combat a rise in break-ins. "You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!" the leaflet stated. Pro-KKK pages were also passed out in Hill City, S.D., on Easter Sunday morning, the Rapid City Journal reported. Meanwhile in Archdale, N.C., community leaders told people circulating KKK fliers that they are not welcome. "There's no place for anything like that in our community," the mayor said in the High Point Enterprise.
4) KKK Arrest: Frazier Glenn Cross, the man charged in the Kansas City shootings, was formerly known as Glenn Miller, a KKK leader in North Carolina. In the 1980s, according to an ABC11 News investigation in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Miller ran for governor, And he was arrested when he was found in a car with a black male prostitute who was dressed as a woman.
5) 50th Anniversary: Speaking at Pacific University this week, Angela Davis – a former Black Panther and retired University of California, Santa Cruz professor — said that the murders of Civil Rights activists James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman by Ku Klux Klansmen and local law officials in Mississippi 50 years ago this summer proved to be a turning point in history. Before the tragedies, she said, the media "paid little attention" to the mistreatment of black voters in the South, the Portland Tribune reported.
6) KKK for Sale: A 1927 Ku Klux Klan Oklahoma Grand Dragon Token was advertised for sale on the iOffer website. By the time you clicked, it was no longer available. But many other tokens are. And lots of Klan memorabilia is for sale on Ebay as well.
7) KKK at the Courthouse: A small group of KKK members gathered on April 26 at the Allegany County courthouse in Cumberland, Md. The Klanspeople were outnumbered by protesters. "The restraint the citizens of Cumberland displayed was overwhelming," Sheriff Craig Robertson said in the Cumberland Times-News.
The Protojournalist: Experimental storytelling for the LURVers – Listeners, Users, Readers, Viewers – of NPR. @NPRtpj