Richard Dillon, a member of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and his friend, David Winebrenner, both from Hammond, Ind., arrived at the home of Chris Barker, the imperial wizard — or national leader — outside Yanceyville, NC around midnight on Dec. 2.
The living room was crowded with people who had traveled from out of state to attend a “victory” parade the following day to celebrate the election of Donald Trump. Many of them were drinking.
As the night progressed, an old argument between Dillon and William Hagen, the California grand dragon — or state leader — resurfaced regarding Hagen’s handling of a violent confrontation between the Loyal White Knights and protesters in Anaheim, Calif. earlier in 2016. At that point, Winebrenner had gone out to their vehicle to fetch a beer for Dillon, and when he returned to the house he “noticed that the environment seemed hectic,” according to an affidavit filed by John T. Ray III, an investigator with the neighboring Person County Sheriff’s Office. Dillon told Winebrenner to load up their vehicle and get ready to leave.
“Dillon stated that Hagen and Barker began to show aggressive behaviors and that Barker was encouraging Hagen to fight Dillon,” Ray wrote in the affidavit. “Dillon advised that Barker continued this behavior and that Hagen eventually stood up and unsheathed a fixed-blade knife. Dillon stated that at this point he stood up and was stabbed by Hagen — two stab wounds to the upper chest area and one stab wound to the right thumb. Dillon advised that after being stabbed, he was able to fight off Hagen [and then] was struck by Barker’s fist.” Dillon said he was confronted by someone he didn’t know as he tried to fight his way towards the front door.
Still outside, Winebrenner started to worry, and began to text his friend to see why he hadn’t come out yet. Not long after that, Winebrenner said, Chris Barker came out of the house.
“According to Winebrenner, Barker attempted to gain entry to the vehicle and later advised Winebrenner that Dillon was dead,” Ray wrote. “Barker also advised Winebrenner that he would drive him to the ATM and withdraw $2,000 in order for Winebrenner to leave. Winebrenner stated that he denied the offer and took the keys out of the ignition [and] noticed Dillon exiting the residence and still being confronted by other unknown subjects.”
The two Indiana men fled to Danville Regional Medical Center across the state line in Virginia, where Dillon was treated for his stab wounds. When Dillon came to grips with the gravity of the assault, he decided he would press charges. Dillon and Winebrenner showed up in the lobby of the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office and swore out a warrant for Hagen and Barker’s arrest.
It looked a lot like a setup to Dillon. He told Ray that Chris Barker had called him numerous times to ask if he was still coming to the Klan gathering in North Carolina despite a verbal argument in recent months over how Hagen was operating his KKK group in California. Dillon said it was odd for Chris Barker to contact him because usually when he received a call from the Barkers’ phone number it would be from Amanda.
Hagen was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury — essentially attempted murder — while Barker was charged with felony aiding and abetting assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. Hagen, the imperial wizard and California grand dragon, would wind up sitting in jail on the day the Loyal White Knights — one of the most feared Klan groups in the country — was expected to lead a triumphal parade to capitalize on the surge of white, Christian nationalism that had swept Donald Trump into office.
The whereabouts of the parade had always been a matter of speculation and confusion, mostly by the Loyal White Knights’ design. The night before Barker had indicated to a reporter at the Burlington Times-Newsthat the parade would take place at 9 a.m. in Pelham, an unincorporated village in the northwest corner of the county where the Loyal White Knights maintained a Post Office box.
That’s when carloads of left-wing antifascists dressed in black, many wearing facemasks, began arriving at a local rest area on Highway 29, joined by an international corps of reporters. The protesters and the press knew nothing about the violent drama that had transpired at Barkers’ house, and rumors flew as the antifascists sent out scouts on a reconnaissance mission in a vain effort to find the Klan. Eventually they tired of waiting and, armed with metal baseball bats, about 150antifascists marched from a community center around a 1.2-mileloop carrying a banner reading “Against white supremacy” bearing an anarchy symbol and a logo that riffed on the Ghostbusters movie.
With Caswell County sheriff deputies and state highway troopers watching, the antifascists wound back around to the community center, and then piled into cars to Danville looking for the opportunity to confront the Klan. Again, they marched through the streets without encountering their adversaries. When the Loyal White Knights did make an appearance, it was 3 p.m. and not in Pelham or Danville, but in Roxboro, the county seat 22miles to the east of Yanceyville. As Barker and Hagen sat in jail, a caravan of 20-30 vehicles sped through Roxboro as the occupants yelled, “White power!”
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