Clipped From The Post-Crescent
The Klan Like crabgrass, it withers but won 'f die If rv o n on EDITOR'S NOTE-White-robed knights of the Ku Klux Klan may not be burning crosses so visibly these days, but they're still recruiting new members. One knight says the KKK needs to change its image. The FBI reports membership has dropped by half. By BILLCRIDER Associated Press Writer CAMPTI, fea. (AP) -"Welcome to Klan Country," the big sign said. And there beside U.S. 71, on a rented meadow three miles north of Campti, the Ku Klux Klan was hustling for new recruits. , Blacks and Jews and intellectuals, liberals, skeptics and their ilk need not apply. The sun had slipped behind the green hills of central Louisiana but the day was still bright. Most ,cars whining along U.S. 71 zipped right on by the KKK sign and the ominous hooded figure beside it. "People-don't come until after dark," shrugged state grand dragon John W. King, a Winnfield lawyer. "They don't care to be seen at a Klan rally." He said that's because the Klan is famed for clandestine terrorism, murder, whippings and its desire to impose its version of law and order and word hasn't gotten around that tirries have changed. The bloody image often repels potential members whose politics may lie just south of Attila the Hun's but who balk at violence - it appeals to what King calls the "nitwits, wild men and radicals." "But the haters pass right on through," King added. "They don't stay long." This peaceful dragon is state commander for the United Klans of America, Inc. (UKA), richest and most visible of the 15 separate and jealous Klan groups known to the FBI. The encampment seemed remarkably well protected. It was patrolled by 10 armed men wearing gray military uniforms, boots, black helmets. Each men's belt bore a holstered pistol. A two-foot billy club dangled beside it. Two troopers carried M-l carbines with banana clips curved beneath them. King, wearing coveralls, was fiery-faced and sweating hard from the unaccustomed labor of helping deck the grassy field with props for his "Americanism Rally." They included: A 30-foot-tall wooden cross, wrapped in burlap and soaked with die-sel fuel, to be lighted later; plus a four-foot cross made of lead pipe, perforated like the burners of a gas stove. Fueled by a tank of butane, the small cross flamed near the fence gate, beside the floodlit welcome sign. An 18-wheel flatbed truck as a platform for musicians and speakers. Microphones stood on it, flanked by American and confederate flags. Strings of electric light bulbs dangled from temporary poles. An old Army tent to shelter a concession stand, where Klan women sold soft drinks, sandwiches and slivers of cake; two smaller tents for rank and file workers. N Two portable outhouses. Two large and luxurious motor homes, one for King, the other for Robert Shelton of Tuscaloosa, Ala., the UKA's imperial wizard. Keeping tabs on the UKA and other Klans used to involve millions of FBI dollars and hundreds of agents and informers. But except for a militant kla-vern here and there, FBI spokesmen say things have been routine since 1971. How many klansmen are there today? How many klaverns in what states? People who know won't say. But Klan secrecy seems to hide weakness, not strength. "The secrecy of our power lies in the secrecy of our membership," a leaflet boasts. "We are a great secret organization to aid officers of the law and we can do our best work when we are not known to the public." The FBI says membership in the Klans has declined considerably since h- BUNDAYpDBt.CpESCBnt Sept. 1, 1974 AppUton-Nwnah-Menosha, Wis. B-l $JB S Wbm fa i Jfl PAtt , ' w U I -my 281 Recruiter, The sign and the hooded figure call attention to a Ku Klux Klan encampment near Campti, La. It was the scene of a recruitment rally for the United Klans of America, Inc (APN photo) 1971 but numbers of Klan organizations continue to be involved in attrocities denying others their constitutional rights. The FBI estimates that United Klans of America, the largest group, has a membership of 1,700. In 1972, they estimated it at 3,200. Actually, Klans were never very secret to the FBI or interested police. Agents rated the worst ones as dumb and easy compared to new radical left groups like the Weathermen or the Symbionese Liberation Army. "Members of the new radical left are educated and ingenious," an FBI veteran said, in ticking off the major differences between the old Klan and the radical left. "They're a different breed, much more difficult to infiltrate. Hell, in the Klan if a man has finished grade school, he's educated. If he has finishd About 100 spectators stuck through two hours of speeches resembling fundamentalist preaching, condemning racial integration, new math, communism Jews. Antisemitism got more space than blacks. "The Jews are the antichrist!" cried Shelton. "People say Christ was a Jew. He was not. Show me anywhere in the old King James Bible where it says Jesus Christ Was a Jew!" Our country was founded by men with names like Hamilton, Adams and Washington, said Shelton, and he mourned today's "Kissingers, Schlesi-ngers and Goldsteins." The rednecks lounged against their cars, listening. Children fell asleep on the seats. At the end, 23 hooded klansmen in white satin robes waved torches in a ritual, then lit the big cross. It was not "The Jews are the antiChrist! People say Christ was a Jew. He was not. Show me anywhere in the old King James Bible where it says Jesus Christ was a Jew." Robert Shelton, klan imperial wizard high school, he's got a master's degree, a college man ... wow! The radical left not only reads guerrilla textbooks but improves and refines them. They have more money, for everyday living purposes, and the Klan was always flat on its backside. "The Klan never robbed. And when they kidnapped it was for beating, intimidation, even killing not ransom." By dark nearly 200 cars and pickups were parked on the field but over half left when a rainstorm struck. particularly spectacular; rain had diluted the diesel fuel. , Not many heeded King's pleas to stick around and sign on. "If you're interested in talking to us about the Klan, we're here to do it and we're not in any hurry to leave," he called. But it was around midnight. The exodus continued. "We are planning to change our style," King told a newsman while unplugging his public address system. impact to be felt on agencies a in of of of can Automobile Association has long boasted to its subscribers of its influence as a lobbying force in the state legislature. But there is one leading legislative personality who is highly skeptical about the organization and its tactics. In an extraordinarily critical but little noticed speech some time ago, now reprinted in the news organ of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association which has often been an AAA political target, Lt. Gov. Martin Schreiber denounced the AAA and its single-minded devotion to the motorist and his automobile. "Of all the supporters of auto dependence, the AAA has been the most vocal and the most misleading. While agitating for the segregated highway fund, the AAA has traditionally resorted to an array of emotional appeals, twisted facts and half-truths. Rather than working for solutions, the AAA seems to thrive by promoting confusion," he said. The No. 2 man of the state administration made his commentary in a speech to the conference of the highway among statehouse Democrats that he and Lt. Gov. Martin Schreiber may collide as rivals for high office one day. If Earl is nominated and elected state attorney general in the fall, as leading Democrats expect, he will be widely regarded as eligible for a future "nomination for governor, even as other heads of the state department of justice have risen to the top state capitol office. Schreiber, of course, would not be content with the comparatively modest office of lieutenant governor, except for a future chance for the higher place. As Gov. Lucey's faithful aide, he would have a plausible claim for the promotion, always assuming that the Lucey ticket is successful in November. The University of Wisconsin television station, WHA-TV, is observing the 20th anniversary of its founding as a tiny and experimental project. Now the flagship of a statewide public television service, the university station was nearly suffocated in infancy. Soon after its modest beginning, the legislature forced the issue of public broadcasting cratic politician in Wisconsin. While she lived in Eau Claire, she became chairman of the Democratic county organization there, and was prominently involved in the early organization work that led to the formation of the party apparatus of today. Like most of the owners of small boats, the average snowmobile owner tends to ignore the fact that he is legally entitled to claim a refund on motor fuel taxes paid because the law intends that the levy applies only to the fuels used for highway transportation. If the estimate in trade circles that the average snowmobiler uses 100 gallons of fuel in a season, the sum refundable on at least 250,000 of the machines would be more than $1,500,000 yearly. State officials expect that there will be demands for the transfer of such un-refunded non-highway user fuel tax receipts for the benefit of snow-mobiling as for trails and other services. But as some of the boating clubs have learned, there will be stout resistance from the highway interests, especially "We're going to hold meetings in motel banquet halls, places like that, instead of out in fields. "You don't get rained on and you also reach a different kind of people not that we've got anything about the poor." Cynical FBI agents, who suspect that money is the root of most Klans, say leaders have nothing against the affluent, either, but that any member will do. The UKA plainly has enough money flowing in to pay Shelton $15,000 a year and provide him with a motor home nearly as big as a greyhound bus to travel from klavern to klavern, coast to coast. 1" He claims klaverns in almost every state. i Proof that the UKA had Yankee klaverns came when five men identified by thq FBI as "UKA affiliates" were arrested on a charge of bombing 10 parked school buses during integration troubles at Pontiac, Mich., in 1971. Shelton says the UKA is financed by a monthly assessment of 50 cents a member, paid to the national UKA from whatever dues are imposed by the local. No other Klan of the 15 seems prosperous, though James R. Venable of Stone Mountain, Ga., claims over 100,000 members for his National Knights. Shelton is among those who doesn't believe it. "They're all paper tigers," he scoffed. "Anybody can set up a Klan. But I doubt if all the other Klans could muster in total membership what we have in just two Louisiana parishes."; Other Klans are a mixed bag. They range from the North and South Carolina Klans to the new Texas Fiery Knights set up by Scott Nelson in Houston now boasting the youngest grand dragon in all Klandom, 19-year-old Dimmie Johnson - to the tough-talking Knights of the KKK, headed by Edward White of Nashville, Tenn. I The Knights abbreviate their title as KKK, ask members to pledge one per cent of their earnings, and predict, a "final solution" resembling Hilter's at-, tempt to exterminate the Jews. I - "We are headed into a race war," said the KKK's David Duke, a Louisiana State University senior who used to be the youngest grand dragon of them all before Dimmie edged him out. Then there are Klans like the Fraternal Order of the KKK, which may have a membership of one: A. Roswell Thompson, a New Orleans man who wants no part of a peaceful Klan image. "We are a terrorist organization," he insisted. "All our violence is secret, but we're violent take my word for it." Some Klans, like the one that held a cake sale near Vidor, Tex., seem to have come full circle to the nature of the first KKK - set up by Civil War veterans in Pulaski, Tenn., in 1867 as a social club. During . Reconstruction, the social club became the backbone of white underground resistance to Yankee domination. When the KKK got out of hand, it was ordered disbanded. The hardy KKK concept survived, spread and took root in both the South and Midwest after World War I, with its membership estimated at five million in the 1920s. Now it's like crabgrass. It withers away periodically, but it never seems to die.