KKK seeks recruits in Eunice, La.
7th April 2014 · 0 Comments
By Mason Harrison
Black residents in Eunice, La., awoke to find their lawns dotted with recruitment materials from the Ku Klux Klan March 23, after two members of a North Carolina-based branch of the hate group canvassed the city for several hours with homemade flyers to drum up area membership. While the incident struck more than a few nerves in the town of just over 10,000 people, the apparent presence of self-identified members of the Klan has produced a fairly muted response.
“Black residents here are not as concerned as many of the white residents,” says Joe Lawrence, president of the Black Man 7 civil rights organization and a member of the Louisiana branch of the Black Panther Party. “They are concerned because they don’t want these people here, but they have the right to advertise membership in their organization. That’s their constitutional right. So, we are going to let the Klan distribute their toilet paper and not respond to them.”
Varden Guillory, the deputy chief of the Eunice police department, says two men were questioned in late March after residents called the police upon discovering Klan literature on their lawns. “When we were called we found them throwing materials out of the window of a truck onto people’s lawns. They also placed flyers under the windshield wipers of people’s cars at the local Walmart and hospital.” Guillory says he doesn’t know how many flyers were distributed, but once the men’s identities were confirmed, they were released. “They were not in violation of any laws.”
The flyers call on white residents to join the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and cite various crime statistics in Black and Hispanic communities as threats to the safety of white Americans, stating, “The law abiding citizens of your community can sleep in peace knowing the Klan is awake.” A voicemail message at the recruitment number left on the flyers describes the Loyal White Knights as the largest and most active Klan-affiliated organization in the United States. The Loyal White Knights are also listed as one of four active Klan groups in the state of Louisiana by the Southern Poverty Law Center. An estimated 5,000 to 8,000 people are Klan members nationwide.
Lawrence believes the men hail from Texas and Lake Charles, La., and distributed flyers in Black neighborhoods because neither man is from the area. “They didn’t know what they were doing,” says Lawrence. “They thought they were placing material in a white neighborhood, but they weren’t. I told people here to remain calm. This isn’t like the sixties when our parents told us to go inside because the Klansmen were coming. We have the right to address concerns just like anyone else, but, if we respond in a public way, this will only encourage them to continue their behavior.”
Guillory says, at best, the men could have been charged with littering if area homeowners wanted to pursue charges against them, but his officers chose not to issue any such citations. “That would have been a waste of time because that’s such a minor offense and these gentlemen are not from here. So, once we determined who they were and checked their IDs, we released them after questioning. This is a situation where people have the right to freedom of speech.” Guillory notified the FBI and the intelligence division of the Louisiana state police after the incident.
A spokesperson for the FBI says the agency is investigating the leafleting, but that no criminal charges are pending in the case because the actions were within the bounds of federal law. “We cannot comment specifically about this incident, but what I can tell you is that we will not be seeking any charges. Our investigation remains active and we have been notified of all details.”
This article originally published in the April 7, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.