Skip to main content

On Saturday, July 8, 50 members of the North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights KKK rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, ostensibly in support of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  The Klan was met by multiple opposition events, including an NAACP forum and a rally by 1,000 counter-protestors who drowned them out with anti-racist chants.

Although the Loyal White Knights claim to be a traditional Klan group, they have participated in tallies with the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.  Their activism is based in the South, although they have also picked up a California Grand Dragon.  Of the three dozen small Klan groups active today, they are believed to be the largest with less than 200 members.  Like others from the sewers of white nationalism, however, they remain dangerous; and several of them marched in Virginia with loaded weapons.

The statue of Gen. Lee was erected in 1924 and the surrounding grass was called Lee Park.  Also, a statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was unveiled in 1921 on a site that was entitled Jackson Park.  The city council voted in April 2017 to remove the statues and rename the parks.  Jackson Park became Justice Park.  Lee Park is now Emancipation Park.  Shortly thereafter, the local Sons of Confederate Veterans, another organization, and eleven individuals filed suit to keep the statues, citing a 1902 law that protects all the so-called war memorials in the state.  On May 2, Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore issued a six-month injunction against removing the statues, apparently hoping to resolve the legal case by then.

On May 14, Richard Spencer and a full gathering of suit-and-tie white nationalists held a torch-bearing protest of the statue’s pending removal.  They were met by anti-racist counter-protestors, although not near the number and variety that the Klan generated.

Spencer Draws Suit and Tie Crowd

City Council candidate Kenneth Jackson organized a Unity in the Community “ice cream social” at the West Haven Community Center to coincide with the Loyal White Knight’s rally.  The NAACP, under Chair Shirley Roundtree, joined with others to organize several “Unity Cville” panels and such.  At one event, Black Lives Matter activists held forth at the Jefferson School City Center.  The NAACP event was entitled “Steadfast and Immovable,” according to reports in the local newspaper.  The largest rally, as noted previously, immobilized the Klan.

The anti-racists will be tested again on August 12.  Richard Spencer, Matt Heimbach, whose latest venture is the Traditionalist Worker Party, Michael Hill from the League of the South (recently praised by David Duke), and seven other speakers are slated for a Unite the Right rally in Emancipation Park.  In contrast to the Loyal White Knights sectarianism, Spencer et. al. will be looking to bring those outside their ranks into their rally.  In contrast to the Klan’s lack of a strategy, Spencer will be putting history and “white racial survival” on the platform. And he will be wearing a suit and tie rather that a white robe.

IREHR notes that support for Confederate memorial and flags remains high among whites in the South.  A 2016 poll by CNN found that 57% of Americans believe the Confederate flag is about southern pride, not racism.  IREHR notes that the most distinctive feature of the pre-Civil War South was slavery.  It is racism of the simplest order to deny that bald fact.

It is IREHR’s hope that Charlottesville will respond to Spencer the same way they did to the Klan.

Leonard Zeskind

Author Leonard Zeskind

is founder of IREHR. For almost four decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. [more..]

More posts by Leonard Zeskind