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Ku Klux Klan re-emerging

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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The Civil Rights era, and its inherent racial turmoil, led to the third era of the Ku Klux Klan. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this era was the Klan's most violent in its brutal and thuggish history.

"The Klan arose a third time during the 1960s to oppose the civil rights movement and to preserve segregation in the face of unfavorable court rulings. The Klan's bombings, murders and other attacks took a great many lives, including, among others, four young girls killed while preparing for Sunday services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.," they wrote.

Desegregation and court-ordered busing led to Klan activities locally. In 1971, Wallace Fruit, the grand dragon of the Drayton Plains (Waterford) KKK, along with five followers, including Robert Miles, the grand dragon of the Michigan KKK, bombed 10 school busses in Pontiac. They were charged, and convicted, by the FBI with violating federal bomb laws, conspiracy to obstruct federal court orders and conspiracy to violate the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

But the Reagan era seemed to quiet the Klan down, and little was heard from them or most other hate groups. An auction in Howell, in Livingston County, in 2005, of seven KKK robes and other Klan paraphernalia, brought the Klan back into focus.

Miles had died in 1992, but his legacy in Howell was long. While the auction highlighted the Klan's history and ties to Howell, today it does not appear – statistically – that there are Klan members in Livingston County.

But that doesn't mean anger and hatred hasn't reared its head again.

In New York state in 2013, a Klansman was arrested and stands accused of trying to build a massive X-ray machine to murder thousands of Muslims.

"He was going to put the machine he had built in a large truck," said Potok. "He was a mechanical engineer working for General Electric. He had built a remote to turn on this mechanical device and was going to pull it in front of a mosque, go to a hotel, and pump out deadly radiation, turn it off, and then drive off. People wouldn't get sick for a day or two, and so he could get away clean. He was caught, according to the indictment, because he didn't have the money to do it and he shopped the idea to two Jewish agencies – 'I have a weapon that will destroy the enemies of Israel'. As soon as he walked out the door, they called the FBI. He goes on trial this fall."

Rallies and leafleting are taking place throughout the country, even if actual Klan groups remain small.

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