Texas is home to three separate KKK or ganizations, the ADL reported this past year DFW is home to a klavem of the Invisible Empire, which was led until recently by Titan Bill Latham, a dog groomer by trade. ADL said the klavem also has operated as Texas Rescue Service and has been involved in picketing abor tion clinics in Dallas. In February, it was reported that three Invisible Empire members were involved in the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department, including a volunteer reserve officer, a jailer and a dispatcher. The two paid employees were fired. Five Invisible Empire members were found to be security policemen at Carswell Air Force Base, a Strategic Air Command Base. All were discharged from the Air Force, Latham later was banished by the Klan. In Waco, Michael Lowe, a carpenter, is grand dragon of the Texas Knights of the KKK, affiliated with Robb’s Arkansas-based group. Lowe, who has served time for convictions for burglary and bomb possession, is considered to be one of the KKK’s most active recruiters. fk claims to have at least 100 members. Under his leadership, the KKK has developed ties with the Confederate Flammerskins, a IDallas-basecl gang of skinheads. ADL reported. In the Flouston area, an independent Klan group, the White Camelia Knights of the KKK, has ex ploited interracial crimes. Previously headed by Charles l_ee, the White Camelia is now led by John Coulson of Raccoon Bend, near Belleville, although Lee is still active in the organization. Despite placards at the Houston Economic S umin it in July 1990 that proclaimed, “Watch Out Niggers, the Texas KKK is Getting Bigger,” ADL reported that the Klan in Texas is substantially weaker than it was during the 1980s, when it was under Beam’s leadership. “However, while the Klan in the Lone Star State is not really ‘getting bigger.’ neither is it losing strength any longer, as it did during the past decade,” the ADL reported. By 1989,46 states had passed some type of law designed to combat crimes of bigotry and a national bill was introduced to mandate the collec tion of data on such crimes. \(In Texas, institutional vandalism or desecration of a place of worship partment of Justice stepped up its prosecution efforts. “But as their crimes put the most militant white supremacists in prison,” Klanwatch reported, “the prisons themselves became prime recruiting ground for organized racists. And the intensive counterattack from authorities fueled the fire of the most militant white supremacists who believed they were victims of a federal conspiracy….Their zeal received an unexpected boost when the most ambitious counterattack of the decade failed.” Thirteen white supremacists, including Order members who had already been convicted of racketeering and the three top leaders of the movement, had been indicted on charges of trying to overthrow the government. In April 1988, all 13 were acquitted by an Arkansas jury. “The sedition acquittals provided another set of heroes for the movement, and white militancy contin ued to spread,” Klanwatch said. J.C. Revisionist history Zeskind said revisionist attempts to play down German Nazi atrocities during the World War II era are part of the attempt of white supremacists who share Nazi ideology to find a place in mainstream politics. Authorities at the University of Texas at Austin recently wrestled with the question of whether the Daily Texan, the student newspaper, should publish an advertisement questioning whether the Holocaust, the systematic killing of an estimated five million Jews and six million others during World War II, really took place. The student publications board eventually decided the advertisement should not be published. The revisionist Bradley R. Smith told The New York Times the refusal of some college newspapers to publish his ad was due to a “conspiracy among organized Jewry to suppress revisionist theory.” An increase in violence and harassment of blacks, Jews and gays has accompanied the efforts of the extreme right to rewrite the history books and to join the political mainstream. The mid-1980s marked a turning point in the history of the white supremacist movement , in America. During an 18-month span, a group of men who called themselves the Order carried out a string of crimes in preparation for what they believed would be a white revolution. Order members were charged with killing a state trooper, two FBI agents and a sheriff, and their leader, Bob Mathews, died in a police shootout. By late 1985, 23 Order members were convicted of or pled guilty to racketeering crimes and were sentenced to long prison terms. The Order members -became martyrs among sectors of the white supremacist movement and gave diverse white supremacist groups a point of unity. Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and Skinheads called the convicted Order members “prisoners of ZOG, which stands for “Zionist Occupational Government” in the anti-Semitic underground. The more traditional Klan groups began to absorb the revolutionary and Identity beliefs popularized by the Order and turned the force of their hatred toward the federal government, Klanwatch reported. Barbara Harberg, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of B B’rith in Houston, has noted increases in the numbers of antiSemitic incidents in the past two years, and said the hard economic times apparently have helped recruiters of “hate groups.” Violence still figures The late 1980s saw the emergence of the Skinheads, “a group just as violent, but not nearly as calculating as the Order,” Klanwatch said. They made headlines with random attacks on minorities and gays, but they also attracted the intense scrutiny of the law, Klanwatch reported. A federal investigation in Dallas led to 16 indictments of Skinheads this past year. Among the homicides tied to white supremacist groups which Klanwatch has monitored in Texas was an Oct. 5 death of a man in Port Arthur. Two Skinheads, both 17, were accused of killing the man in a Skinheads initiation ritual. A white teenager in August pleaded guilty to juvenile charges in the June 7 drive-by shooting death of a black man in Arlington and was sentenced to 15 years. Two Skinheads charged in the murder were to be tried as adults. Ten young men were indicted Aug. 1 in Houston in connection with the July 4 beating death of a man outside a gay bar. Two other men were injured. “The message of the 1980s is that organized hate is not limited to a certain area, or region, or a certain class of people. It is a national problem with no easy solution,” Klanwatch concluded its report. “Without the proper defenses in place, the hate that inspires such crimes can destroy communities. Building those defenses through law enforcement, education, police training and community action is the challenge of the 1990s.” Resourcesfor this article included reports of The Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala.; the Center for Democratic Renewal, based in Atlanta, Ga., and the Anti-Defamation League of B’ nai B’rith, which has an office in Houston. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 41
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