One of the most extreme and violent Klan outfit in the nation plans to hold a national gathering outside of Yanceyville, a town 40 miles northeast of Greensboro, on Friday, a day that marks the 38th anniversary of Nov. 3, 1979 — the date a caravan of Klan and Nazi terrorists drove into a Greensboro public housing project and killed five people at an anti-racist labor march.
The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, led by Imperial Wizard Chris Barker, are gathering on Friday, said Nate Thayer, a veteran journalist who monitors white supremacist groups and maintains sources within the Klan group. Thayer said one of his sources told him the gathering is expected to attract 75 to 100 members from across the country. On Saturday, the Klan group plans to hold a cross burning and “naturalization,” or initiation ceremony.
Greensboro Massacre survivors, family and friends plan to hold a graveside commemoration for Cesar Cauce, Dr. Michael Nathan, Bill Sampson, Sandi Smith and Dr. Jim Waller, the five slain activists, in Greensboro on Friday, followed by a luncheon at the Beloved Community Center to discuss the legacy of the 1979 massacre and how it connects to the Charlottesville car-ramming event and other recent events.
Thayer said on Wednesday evening that his Klan source informed him that Loyal White Knights members have discussed the Nov. 3 commemoration on a private online message board.
“Barker is acutely aware of the Greensboro commemoration get-together,” he said.
The Rev. Nelson Johnson, a survivor of the Greensboro Massacre and the director of the Beloved Community Center, declined to comment for this story.
Susan Danielsen, the public information officer for the Greensboro Police Department, said the department is aware of the KKK’s plan to gather in Yanceyville tomorrow.
“We are monitoring the development of this activity, and will adjust our law enforcement efforts here to maintain the peace if there are any indicators that the rally will impact us,” Danielsen said.
In outgoing messages on the Loyal White Knights’ hotline, Barker has praised James Fields Jr., the white supremacist alleged to have carried out the car-ramming attack that killed Heather Heyer earlier this year in Charlottesville, Va., and Dylann Roof, the mass murderer who killed nine black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, SC in 2015.
Barker has repeatedly advocated for a race war to establish a white ethno-state.
“Start white cliques, little white youth gangs,” he advised in a video posted on the Loyal White Knights website earlier this year. “You can’t join the Klan until you’re 18 unless your parents sign for you, but you can start white cliques, little white gangs amongst your own self in school and fight for your own rights there. If one goes down, you should all go down fighting, especially when it comes down to fighting these people who are more tribal.”
He expressed enthusiasm for the wave of white nationalism rising in the United States and Europe.
“We’re in the end of times and it’s going to be a racial war, not just in America, but it’s going on in Europe right now,” Barker said. “In Europe right now the white race is getting upset with what their politicians is doing to them, too. We’re getting the Mexican immigrants; they’re getting the Muslim immigrants. They’re getting a lot of Africans dropped straight off the boats with spears and bones still in their noses [sic]; that’s how bad it is in Europe. But the whites in Europe are different from America; they not docile like we are. They’re actually getting out and fighting in the streets. There are real fistfights, fire-bombings; they’re pushing the mud races back to their own homelands.”
In the same video, Barker said his biggest influence was the late Virgil Griffin, a Klan leader who was part of the caravan of white supremacists that attacked the anti-racist march in Greensboro in 1979. Barker said he first met Griffin in 1998.
“He was a great speaker,” Barker said. “He taught us a lot about the Klan and Klancraft.”
Testifying at a hearing of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2005, Griffin said the anti-racist marchers were killed and not Klansmen because “my people hunt for food. Maybe God guided the bullets, I don’t know.”
Thayer said it’s likely that the Loyal White Knights will hold some type of public event on Saturday because public events afford the group the opportunity to garner publicity, which in turn drives membership. The location of the public events, which have included motorcades and rallies in the past, are typically not announced until the last minute.
Barker acknowledged to Triad City Beat in a 2014 interview that he typically announces a fake location to throw off adversaries. That year, the group publicized a rally in High Point, and then held the event in Troy instead. On the eve of a December 2016 motorcade to celebrate the election of Donald Trump, a representative of the group told a reporter at the Burlington Times-News that the parade would be held in the town of Pelham at 10 a.m., but instead they surfaced 35 miles away in Roxboro five hours later.
The ill-fated December 2016 gathering resulted in the stabbing of a Klan member from Indiana before the parade even took place. Barker and William Hagen, the grand dragon for California, wound up sitting in jail as members of their organization drove through Roxboro shouting “white power” from pickup trucks. Barker was charged with aiding and abetting assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. The charges were later dropped after the alleged victim notified prosecutors that he was not willing to travel to North Carolina to testify. Hagen is currently serving a prison sentence in California on unrelated charges.
The Loyal White Knights gathering comes at a time fraught with social tension across the United States and in the North Carolina Piedmont in particular.
Right-wing provocateurs on the internet have falsely claimed that antifa — a radical left network of activists that wear masks to maintain anonymity while engaging in street combat with white supremacists — plans to launch a civil war on Nov. 4. (Read more about the “antifa civil war” hoax here.)
The notion of an antifa-instigated civil war has gained traction with a wide array of far-right extremists. Last week, one right-wing patriot militia leader, Francis Marion, fielded comments from followers on Facebook who said they were prepared to run over protesters with cars and willing to user firearms to kill opponents.
Closer to home, racial tension has recently flared in Davie County, to the southwest of Winston-Salem, where a photo of a noose discovered in the Davie County High School restroom that circulated on Facebook set off alarm among African-American residents. Two days later, a video was posted on Facebook that featured one or more male voices saying, “All these n*****s that think the noose is f***ing racist, they can get hung. ’Cause it ain’tf***ing racist. All these nig- …. Goddamn n*****s, I’ll beat the hell out of anyone of y’all motherfers who write cracker in the f***ing bathrooms. Pussies.”
Citing a climate of racial intimidation in Davie County, Effrainguan Muhammad, the Winston-Salem representative of the Nation of Islam, has announced on Facebook that he plans to mobilize a contingent to stand in support of the black community in the rural county. Muhammad told TCB that he was aware of the “civil war” hoax.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the Loyal White Knights planned to hold its cross-burning and naturalization ceremony on Friday, Nov. 3. In fact, the cross-burning and naturalization ceremony was expected to take place on Saturday, Nov. 4. Klan members arrived at the home of Chris Barker outside of Yanceyville throughout the day on Friday.