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Within the Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Louisiana, terroristic duties were entrusted to so-called wrecking crews appointed by the klokan (klavern investigator). The Original Knights constitution decreed that each klavern must have at least one team of six men "to be used for wrecking crew.” The men were to be appointed by the klokan "in secrecy."
With respect to the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, led by James R. Venable, the committee has already called attention to the operations of a highly secret, militant, and violence-prone subgroup called the Black Shirts. The group is also known as the Black Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and its activity since its formation in 1965 is not revealed to the general klan membership. In their appearances in public, these men are clad entirely in black. They are led by men who also serve as organizers for the National Knights, namely, Earl Holcombe and Colbert Raymond McGriff.
The nucleus of this group which affiliated with the National Knights comes from the area of Barnesville, Ga., and had operated in 1964 as the Vigilantes. A number had earlier been associated with the United Klans of America, and quit the UKA after an incident in Griffin, Ga., in April 1964 in which some of them were arrested. The Griffin incident involved intimidating a Negro at his place of business. As a result of the arrests, a large quantity of arms and ammunition was confiscated by the Griffin police. The Black Shirts include as members such men as Cecil William Myers and Joseph Howard Sims who, while affiliated with the United Klans of America, were charged with involvement in the Lemuel Penn murder in July 1964.
THE KLAN OATH
The importance of secrecy is driven home to each klan recruit when he takes a series of oaths at the time of admission to klan membership.
Klan oaths involve many obligations. The individual promises to obey klan rules and officers, be faithful to the organization, practice “klanishness" with fellow klansmen, and protect the secrecy of the order and its members.
The section of the oath governing secrecy states: I most solemnly swear—that I will forever-keep sacredly secret—the signs, words and grip and any and all other—matters and knowledge of the [klan) regarding which a most rigid secrecy-must be maintained—which may at any time_be communicated to me and will never-divulge same nor even cause same to be divulged—to any person in the whole world—unless know positively—that such person is a member of this Order-in good and regular standing—and not even then-unless it be for the best interest of this Order.
I most sacredly vow-and most positively swear—that I will never yield to bribe-fattery—threats—passion-punishment-persecution—persuasion any enticements whatever-coming from or offered by—any person or personsmale or female for the purpose of—obtaining from mea secret or ecret information-of the [klan]-I will die rather than divulge same so help me God
3 The oath quoted here is used by the United Klans of America and most of the major klan organizations. It is reproduced in full in the appendix, pp. 343–346.
The oath of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, which is an exhibit to the committee's public hearings on klan organizations, differs in a number of respects from the above-quoted oath. Some of the differences are noted in that section of ch. II dealing with the White Knights. See p. 45.
Included in this oath are certain exemptions which, the committee has already observed, lack practical application:
I swear that I will keep secure to myself—a secret of a [klan]sman—when same is committed to me in the sacred bond of [klan]smanship the crime of violating this solemn oath-treason against the United States of Americarape and malicious murder—alone excepted.
The dangers and potential abuse of such an oath are obvious. The klansman is saying, in effect, that he is bound never to reveal, even to an officer of the law, the commission of any crime, except treason, murder, and rape. Yet, in the trial of Collie Leroy Wilkins, the UKA imperial klonsel (lawyer) accused Gary Rowe, an FBI undercover klansman, of violating his klan oath by reporting the involvement of fellow UKA members in the Viola Liuzzo murder. The reaction of the United Klans of America to Rowe's testimony clearly established that a klansman with knowledge of murder is not exempt from the oath of secrecy.
The oath unequivocally silences klansmen with knowledge of the planning and execution of a flogging, bombing, act of arson, or similar violent and criminal deed. The implications are all the more ominous when an officer of the law is also a member of the klan. If his klan oath supersedes his oath to uphold the law, he could not possibly take action against a fellow klansman who he knows has engaged in illegal acts.
Tactics adopted by Imperial Wizard Robert Shelton of the United Klans of America during this committee's public hearings apparently were intended to emphasize the superiority of a klan oath over other oaths. Klansmen repeatedly invoke the name of the Almighty when they take their oath of allegiance to the United Klans of America. When Imperial Wizard Shelton was called to the witness stand by this committee in October 1965, the chairman administered the following oath:
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God ?
Shelton pointedly refused to take this oath. Instead, he merely affirmed, without reference to God, that he would be truthful in his testimony. The same procedure was followed by Mrs. Shelton, Shelton's former office secretary, Carol Long, and the UKA's imperial chaplain, George Dorsett, when they were called to testify before the committee.
The committee found that klan organizations do not rely on a simple oath to maintain the security of their operations. Klan threats, harassment, and outright physical violence have been employed to prevent klan members and former members from talking too much. A particularly vicious kind of retaliation threatened, and sometimes carried out, by klan leaders is directed at the wives and children of suspected klan security risks.
The explanation which the United Klans of America offers to the public to justify the secret nature of the organization does little to improve its image. Recruiting literature issued by the United Klans under the title “The Seven Symbols of the Klan,” 4 refers to the klansman's hood thusly:
4 The leaflet, “The Seven Symbols of the Klan," is reproduced as an exhibit in the appendix, pp. 347–352.
That hated hood, the terror of every evil force in the land, how they cry, "take off the hood.” But they don't know what they say. They do not understand why we wear it or what it means. "If they only knew !"
In the first place it helps to conceal our membership. The secret of our power lies in the secrecy of our membership. We are a great secret organization to aid the officers of the law and we can do our best work when we are not known to the public. By this means we see and hear everything. We know the evil forces but they do not know us. By our secret membership we gather thousands into the meshes of the law that would otherwise escape.
Such words actually serve as justification for lawless elements within the klan to take the law into their own hands, and create a host of new problems for law enforcement officers.
SECRECY OF THE WHITE KNIGHTS
The White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi has made such a fetish of secrecy that its entire operation is "underground.”
A number of mimeographed directives, not identified on their face as to source, were traced by the committee to their origin in the headquarters of the White Knights. One such directive, labeled “Secrecy: , 5 described that quality as the "greatest asset” which the klan as a militant organization possessed. A second directive, under the title "Executive Lecture of March 1, 1964," 5 listed procedures for White Knights members to follow to maintain the "security” of their organization. Security was defined as including the ability of a unit and its members to remain undetected by outsiders and the ability of a unit to protect its meetings from detection and intrusion from outsiders
Behavior of klansmen on the way to and from klan meetings was discussed. “Train yourself to see yourself as a skilled detective would see you,” the directive urged. Precautions in recruiting new members included the warning: "Remember, the men who join you are going to be walking around with your life in their hands."
Additional instructions covered the roles of a klavern security officer and armed klavern guards, use of mail drops and coded telephone conversations, ways to avoid identification from written or printed communications, and keeping records in code. Security precautions even provided for the separation of members within the same klavern. For example, some members of a klavern could be identified as members only by the individual who had personally recruited him.
The directive titled "Secrecy” is reproduced on p. 70 and the complete text of "Executive Lecture of March 1, 1964" appears on pp. 164–168. White Knights Imperial Wizard Sam Holloway Bowers, Jr., and other klan officers invoked their constitutional privileges against self-incrimination when interrogated by this committee about such documents on Feb. 1, 1966.
[Harold Delk Exhibit No. 1-January 14, 1966)
No serious person will question the fact that SECRECY is the greatest asset which this or conization possesses on the lilitent side of its nature. It is second in importance only to our Christian Spirit and Motivation which is the basis for our inspiration and the cause of whatever sucess we may achieve.
Every nenter must long the concept of SECRECY uppermost in his mind at all times as he ket.ps the 3pirit of Christ uppermost in his heart at all times. Secrecy must become sccond nature to all members, and they must learn to keep still without even thinking about it.
It is very difficult for the new member to adapt himself to this concept and each recruiter rust impress it in a very forcible manner on each new member from the very first. The new member is usually so thrilled and enthusiastic that he is unable to contain himself and mat say or do something that will reveal his affiliation to our sharp eyed and sharp eared enemies who are all about us, watching. This danger must be recognized by the trained recruiter.
Re:: members must be impressed with the understanding that they are "green" to the concepi of Secrecy, and that they must be more than careful. "A slip of the lip , may sink the ship." The communists have a saying : "Nothing is unimportant". Our nembers must realize this and slip nothing by word, manner or decd that an enemy could turn into worthwhilo infornation.
Secrecy is not oni; a tight lip, but a tight manner. Members should avoid "getting together" on the outside of a mesting and gossiping. This is the most deadly work, that any group of inen have ever den engaged in , and we must be deadly careful ab about it. . Avoid using the name of the organization at all times. It is not necessary to use that name in conversation with a fellow member in order to make your self understood. Develop the habit of talking in such a way that even if someone was to overhear your conversation , he would not be able to understand what is was that you were talking about. Develop your own private, substitutate names for all proper names and o offices in the organization.
Secrecy is more than just not talking. True Secrecy is a HARDENED MENTAL ATTITUR by which an individual convinces HIMSELF that he is not a member and that there is no such, organization. Secrecy is liental Discipline and necessary for Victory. !Then a member is so able to discipline himself, he is not going to ACCIDENTALLY make slips of tongue and manner , and until he DOES so discipline himself he will continuo to make sucli slips.
Then the veil of Secrecy is closed, each member should immediately change his personality back to t...e person that he was before he became a member, and reenter the Alien world as an alien, with the knowledge of the Organization buried deep in his consciousness,
l'embers should learn how to steer conversations away from subjects which are related to the organization and its work. Tembers should always direct the attention of of aliens with whom they converse TO: ARD the Com:cunist Enemy and Sympathaziers and AJAY from ourselves.
The very highest essence of Secrecy is Deliberate Deception, but only highly skille: extremely alert or gifted members should attempt this. It is extremely dangerous and requiros a precise understanding of the Enemy. All members, however should woPk and study in order to become proficient at tiris work oi' Deliverate Deception. When in doubt as to your ability to deceive, just remain silent and innocent.
COVER NAMES AND FRONT ORGANIZATIONS
Like the Communist Party, the various klans make wide use of cover names and front organizations. They are facades to conceal from the public the klan and its true role in certain political, agitational, and propaganda activities.
The cover names and the titles of front organizations selected by klan leaders usually give the impression that the klan is a sporting club or a civic association.
A glance at the list of klaverns in this report 6 shows many local klan units masquerading as rescue services, hunting and fishing clubs, rifle clubs, sportsmen's clubs, and improvement associations. As previously stated, financial transactions of the imperial (national) office of the United Klans of America are conducted in the cover name, “Alabama Rescue Service.”
Committee investigation documented the fact that, in addition to the use of cover names described above, klans in southern communities create what purport to be separate and autonomous organizations. Actually, they are fronts created and controlled by the klan. In some cases a klan has legally incorporated front organizations. The front, of course, has no apparent connection with a klan-type group. Examples of such front organizations would include fronts in Alabama for the United Klans of America known as Heritage Enterprises, Inc., and the Whiteman's Defense Fund; a front of the White Knights in Mississippi titled White Christian Protective and Legal Defense Fund; and two previously discussed fronts of the National Knights in Georgia—Defensive Legion of Registered Americans, Inc., and the Christian Voters & Buyers League.
Sometimes a klan organization or a local klavern of a klan has obtained a corporate charter to do business under the cover name it had adopted. Examples include:
The Clayton Civic Club, Inc., was incorporated in the State of Georgia in January 1965. This organization has engaged in business ventures and in attempts to take part in the civic and social affairs of the city of Jonesboro and surrounding areas (slightly south of Atlanta). Nevertheless, the club is identical to Clayton County Klavern No. 52, Realm of Georgia, United Klans of America.
The New Hanover County Improvement Association, Inc., was incorporated in the State of North Carolina in June 1964 as an alleged charitable and educational corporation which would teach “patriotism” and support of the Constitution and laws of the United States. This organization operates in the area of Wilmington, N.C., with no ostensible connection to any klan organization. In reality it is a klavern of the North Carolina Realm of the United Klans of America.
The Adams County Civic and Betterment Association? was incorporated in the State of Mississippi in August 1964 for the publicly stated purpose of advancing “the educational, civic, and social interests" of the county and encouraging voter registration and voting.
* See pp. 145–163.
7 Articles of incorporation filed with a secretary of state by the named organizations are reproduced as exhibits in the appendix to this report. See pp. 353–355, 356,358, 359–361, and 362-365.