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Ku Klux Klan re-emerging


By Lisa Brody
News Editor
...continued from page 5

In the early 1920s, at least 40,000 Klansmen lived in the city itself, and a KKK-affiliated mayor was almost elected. In 1925, Ossian Sweet, a black doctor, moved his family into a white neighborhood, on Garland Street at Charlevoix. According to historian Kevin Boyle, racist mobs attacked the family in their home, and the Sweets defended themselves with guns, killing one attacker. Sweet was tried and acquitted by an all white jury.

Some Oakland County communities, as well as neighboring counties, became bastions of white working class individuals as factories employed more and more individuals, and grew Ku Klux Klan groups.

In 1924, the Rev. Oren Van Loon of Berkley Community Church, preached to his congregation against cross burnings by the Klan, and on June 30, 1924, he was kidnapped by the Klan. He was found 11 days later, alive, in Battle Creek, with the KKK brand on his back.

In 1926 in Royal Oak, on Woodward and 12 Mile Road, in what was then a predominantly Protestant area, the Detroit Catholic Archdiocese built a church in honor of Saint Therese de Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower. Two weeks after it opened, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in front of the church. Then, on March 17, 1936, a fire, possibly set by the Klan, destroyed the original wood structure. It was rebuilt of stone and copper.

A news clip from Macomb County, on September 30, 1925, reads: "Kluxers order family to move. Smash window and attempt to fire home, it is charged. Mother and children alone, flee in fright. Renewal of activities by the Ku Klux Klan in Macomb County was reported last night when the family of Charles Frohm on the Telegraph Road was told to move within three weeks or suffer the consequences. The latter were not long in coming for they seemed to accompany the warning given by a hooded figure who appeared at the farmhouse, smashed a window and then attempted to fire the building with a large dishpan filled with burning oil soaked with rags...It is said that last night's warning is the second that have been given the Frohms by the Klan."

Further, Potok said, "In the 1920s, the Klan owned the government in a lot of areas. They were intimately connected to real power, and had a close connection. In 1928, the Klan helped break the Democratic hold on the south; but reaching that pinnacle led to that era's demise. By 1930, it is estimated that there were only 30,000 Klansmen, a sharp decline in membership. A combination of having attained some of their goals combined with several state laws that forbade masks, which eliminated their "secret" element, the economic collapse with the Depression, when members couldn't pay their dues, as well as a lot of bad publicity about the Klan that it was being run by thugs and swindlers, led to a loss of members.

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Tags: LONGFORM

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