Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Trayvon Martin Killing: Has Sanford's KKK Past Come Back to Haunt It?

The KKK pictured in Gainesville, Florida (1922)

SPLC's Potok Confirms Sanford Was Home to the New Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

A FROM THE G-MAN EXCLUSIVE

Several days ago, during a face-to-face conversation with "Mr. V", a New York resident that has family and friends based in the Sanford, Florida area, From The G-Man was informed that many sections of Florida, including Sanford, were "hood" areas.

When asked to explain, Mr. V stated, "Hood, as in Ku Klux Klan! I'm not surprised that this shooting occurred, based on what family and friends have told me in the past." 

From The G-Man launched an investigation into the claim on March 21, and on the same day two sources that were contacted confirmed that the KKK has had -- and continues to have -- a significant presence in the “Sunshine State". 

"According to our archives, there is no listing of an organization known as the New Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, but there have been a number of Klan chapters set up in various sections of the state dating as far back as the 1930s, and many of them could have spread out to areas like Sanford," said Alicia Clarke, Curator of the Sanford Museum

"The problem with trying to pinpoint that specific organization is most of the local library's archives no longer use microfilm, as everything has gone digital, and the transformation has caused gaps in our logging and recording of information. I would refer you to Sanford's historian, Jack Benton. He would probably be the best person to tell you about that specific organization and exactly when they were in Sanford."

Benton was contacted and informed of the nature of the calls, but he has not responded. 

Confirmation of the New Knights of the Ku Klux Klan's existence in Sanford came courtesy of an email from Mark Potok, Senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

The email stated the following: 

As far as we know, there once was a Sanford chapter of the New Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, but they were last active in 2000. Their address then was 3665 S Orlando Drive, Suite 416, Sanford, FL  32773. This is in an all business area and was probably a Drop box with UPS or something like that. They claimed to have a Grand Dragon (bkkkb@yahoo.com) and a Great Titan (knightsfl@yahoo.com). They were somehow connected to the Oregon Knights of the KKK and supposedly had a State office at Merritt Island, FL.

A former member contacted us in September 2000 claiming that he quit because the Klan stole from him. This is unverified.

The knightsfl@yahoo.com seems to be no good any longer.

The bkkb@yahoo.com was used in 2001 by: 
New Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Realm of Florida
P.O. Box 542913, Merritt Island, Fl. 32953

That’s really all we have. I hope that’s helpful. 

Best,

Mark Potok
Senior fellow, SPLC 

Potok was also contacted in effort to confirm allegations made by Cole Thornton, the Imperial Wizard of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. 

In an article that appeared in the Orlando Sentinel on January 8, 2010, Thornton claimed that Florida police officers "belonged to his Klan group because they like its rigid standards and its adherence to strict moral codes." Thornton refused to name the officers. 

"For what it's worth, I don’t believe Cole Thornton at all when he claims he’s got lots of police officer members. I think he wishes he had them, but he doesn’t, said Potok. 

"As a practical matter, we still once in a great while run across a Klan cop, but almost never. It was a big thing, of course, during the civil rights movement, but not in recent years." 

In an email from Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change, which cites its goal as strengthening Black America's political voice, Robinson revealed that the killing of Trayvon Martin is not the first racial incident where he believes the Sanford Police Department acted in an inappropriate, questionable and unconscionable manner. 

"Sanford has a history of not prosecuting when the victim is Black. In 2010, the white son of a Sanford police lieutenant was let go by police after assaulting a homeless Black man outside a downtown bar," noted Robinson. 

"And, in 2005, a Black teenager was killed by two white security guards, one the son of a Sanford police officer. The pair was arrested and charged, but a judge later cited lack of evidence and dismissed both cases."

On March 21, From The G-Man contacted Cole Thornton to obtain more information about the claims made in the Orlando Sentinel article. Thornton's comments will be published as they become available.

The Department of Justice is now reviewing the case, and, as this story was being posted, CBS News is reporting that Sanford’s Chief of Police, Bill Lee, has “temporarily” stepped down.

Correction: The article notes that Sanford Museum curator Alicia Clarke referred Jack Benton as a source of information for this story. Mr. Benton was actually referred through another source that spoke to From The G-Man. 

Photo source: Wikipedia

Author: Original uploader was Alabamaboy
Permission: Public Domain

Weekly Address: 'House Must Pass Bipartisan Transportation Bill'


President Obama is calling on the House of Representatives to pass a bipartisan transportation bill that would repair crumbling roads and bridges and support construction jobs in communities all across America.

White House Briefs


White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

'We Call for the Immediate Restoration of Constitutional Rule in Mali...'


Press Secretary Jay Carney on the Situation in Mali

The United States strongly condemns the violence initiated by elements of the armed forces of Mali. We call for the immediate restoration of constitutional rule in Mali, including full civilian authority over the armed forces and respect for the country’s democratic institutions and traditions. The United States stands by the people of Mali and the legitimately elected government of President Amadou Toumani TourĂ©. We welcome the strong statements by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States condemning this unconstitutional seizure of power. We welcome the strong statements by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States condemning this unconstitutional seizure of power. 

Details on the events in Mali are available here: Soldiers Oust Mali President, Seize Control

Trayvon Martin and the Fatal History of American Racism


A Special Guest Commentary by Activist and Writer Kevin Powell

"Trayvon Martin and the Fatal History of American Racism"
by Kevin Powell



So are you. And so is any human being who has ever felt cornered, in a dark and desolate alley, between life and death.  Add the grim reality of skin color in America, and you have the disastrous spectacle of 250lb George Zimmerman, 28, pursuing 140lb Trayvon, 17, until that man-child is screaming "Help!" – and then gasping for air after a bullet from Zimmerman's 9mm handgun had punctured his chest. A majority-white, gated community became, on 26 February, the makeshift mortuary for a black boy who will not get a chance to live, to go to college with his exceptional high school grades, to make something of his life. Trayvon's fatal act: a mundane walk to the nearby convenience store to buy a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles.

This is what racism, the American version of it, means to black boys like Trayvon, to black men like me. That we often don't stand a chance when it has been determined, oftentimes by a single individual acting as judge and jury, that we are criminals to be pursued, confronted, tackled, and, yes, subdued. To be shocked and awed into submission.

The police authorities in Sanford,  Florida, where the shooting occurred, are apparently so mired in racial prejudice and denial that George Zimmerman, at this writing, still has not been arrested nearly a month after Trayvon was killed – in spite of Zimmerman being told, on 911 police dispatch audio, not to follow Trayvon Martin.

In spite of Zimmerman being charged in 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on a police officer. In spite of Zimmerman calling the police 46 times since January 2011. In spite of Zimmerman, according to neighbors, being fixated on bracketing young black males with criminality. In spite of Zimmerman being the subject of complaints from neighbors in his gated community due to his aggressive tactics. In spite of the officer in charge of the crime scene also receiving criticism in 2010 when he initially failed to arrest a lieutenant's son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man. In spite of Zimmerman violating major principles of the Neighborhood Watch manual (the manual states: "It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers. And they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles.")

In spite of Zimmerman not being a member of a registered group, which police were not aware of at the time of the incident. And in spite of the Sanford, Florida police failing to test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol. (A law enforcement expert told ABC that Zimmerman sounds intoxicated on the 911 tapes, and that drug and alcohol testing is "standard procedure in most homicide investigations".)

Finally, what was a man like George Zimmerman doing with a gun in the first place? And will Florida's very "stand your ground" self-defense law prevent Zimmerman from ever being prosecuted, especially as he and his lawyers are claiming he was protecting himself from harm?

Finally, does any of the above truly matter, if the shooter has white skin and the victim's is brown?

We've heard, since President Obama came into office, that we suddenly, miraculously, live in a "post-racial" America, that there now is such a thing as "post-blackness". Try telling that to the families of Trayvon Martin, or Ramarley Graham, or Sean Bell, or Oscar Grant, or Amadou Diallo, or Emmett Till, or the Scottsboro Boys, and countless others in modern US history.

Racism remains the greatest cancer of American society, and has been since the founding of this nation – by men who owned slaves. You cannot slaughter and push from the land Native Americans, enslave black people, harass and marginalize Asians, Latinos and Jews, and scapegoat immigrant white ethnics and Arabs through your long and tumultuous history, then wonder how the killing of Trayvon Martin could happen in the first place? The former is the context for the latter.

We, most of us, have been socialized to fear and demonize difference, the other. Trayvon's murder is of a piece with hysterical and overzealous anti-immigration policies and new voter ID laws  that recall the days of segregation and harsh American racial apartheid. Left unchecked, as George Zimmerman has been left unchecked, and you perpetuate this ugly national tragedy.

American racism is not merely a distortion of human psychology that teaches the George Zimmermans of our nation to see Trayvon Martin as nothing more than a criminal; it is also the debilitating disease that allows us, on the one hand, to denounce the alleged atrocities of Kony in faraway Africa we've seen in that ubiquitous viral video, and on the other, to overlook the Trayvon Martins, just as we ignore the routine stop-and-frisk harassment of legions of black and Latino young males.

We are trapped in the stereotyping that saw my friend's son being told by his teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia recently, as he recited a Langston Hughes poem, that he needed to read it "Blacker". The stereotyping that allows us to cheer loudly for the majority-black college basketball teams during March Madness, yet won't permit us to pay attention to Trayvon Martin's parents, clearly shattered, pleading for some shred of justice.

The Justice Department's intervention is welcome, if belated. But it is American racism that constrains our leaders, like President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, from speaking forcibly and publicly about this destructive cancer for fear of alienating "regular" folks. If the president could call on Sandra Fluke considering the insult she'd received from Rush Limbaugh, we should be able to expect him to offer his condolences to Martin's parents for the grievous injury they have received.

For the sake of Trayvon Martin, and the Trayvon Martins who never had this sort of mass outcry, something must be done. But if we choose to turn our ears and hearts away from his parents and his community, then Trayvon Martin's blood will be on the hands of this entire nation. Will we ignore that call for help, as Trayvon's went unheeded?

Detailed information on Kevin Powell is available here: http://www.kevinpowell.net/

Photo courtesy of http://newblackman.blogspot.com

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