RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)-The Ku Klux Klan call themselves the invisible empire, but they have certainly been reaching out to Richmond area residents, some who have received recruitment flyers twice within two months.
Two men who profess to be members of the Virginia Ku Klux Klan spoke with CBS 6 in Richmond.
The man wearing the green robe said he’s the head of the state network, known as the grand dragon. The other is a regional head. They said there has been a surge of interest in the KKK since President Obama’s first term.
“Since Obama’s first term our numbers have doubled and now that we’re headed to a second term it’s going to triple, this is going to be the biggest resurgence of the Klan since 1915,” said one of the Klansmen interviewed.
The Klansman have been handing out flyers in a Mechanicsville neighborhood, and neighbors who received them have contacted CBS 6.
“We’re not trying to target anybody or scare anybody with hate, we’re just using our freedom of speech to drop fliers,” said one of the Klansmen interviewed. “Everyone thinks that we’re a hate group, we’re not a hate group, we don’t hate anyone, and we want to see good things come to our race.”
The Klansmen said that they’re white separatist, non-violent Christians whose mission is protect the rights of white people lawfully, the same way the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People does for African-Americans.
These two Klansmen claimed that they’d never commit a hate crime or hurt someone of another race. CBS 6 asked would they help someone of another race in need, and they said yes.
When CBS 6 asked if they would ever be friends with a black person, they firmly said no.
“If people want to associate with blacks let them do it but there’s people out there that want to stay of their own kind…let them do it,” said one of the Klansmen interviewed.
Local NAACP director King Salim Khalfani said that the KKK history suggests there is more hate behind what they call a separatist philosophy.
“They have a history of terrorism, torture, murder…,” said Khalfani.
Khalfani said his group is aware of a rise in KKK activity, specifically since November’s election. He said the recruiting is no surprise but that it comes with false advertising about who they really are.
“Be honest, I respect people who are honest, but it’s harder to recruit when you say it like it is,” he said.
Civil rights historian Brian Daugherity agrees with Khalfani that the KKK should be classified as a hate group, but said that today’s Virginia KKK is likely not as involved in the violent and criminal activities of decades past.
Still, for most Virginians, the flyers stir a sour memory.
“I think most Virginians think this was a long time ago and the current activity is uncomfortable,” said Daugherity. “It’s disturbing, it’s scary.”
The Klansmen are aware of that fear. They fear showing their faces as KKK members would mean losing their day jobs.
However, the plan is to continue recruiting in central Virginia, and to remain invisible except to those who share their beliefs.
“Being a Klansman isn’t something you just do on the weekends, you live twenty-four seven for the Klan,” said one of the Klansmen interviewed.