We have all seen those movies of the Southern sheriff aiding, abetting or even being part of Klan activities. We watch the sinister individual plot and plan to do harm to black folk.
. But that’s the movies. Turns out it can depict life, as well.
A fellow in Florida might not have been the sheriff, but he was in the police force. James Elkins, 28, resigned in late January. It was found that he had membership as a “district Kleagle” and “staff sergeant” in the Ku Klux Klan, he was forced to resign. That occurred when he was learned that he had been distributing KKK recruitment fliers. Furthermore he was found all decked out in KKK regalia in pictures the police received.
First Elkins denied the matter until after KKK literature was found in a post office box belonging to him. When Elkins resigned, he didn’t talk about his Klan membership but simply said that he had injuries from a past accident that restricted him from being able to perform his duties as a police officer. He had been on workers’ compensation since a 2007 car crash.
Elkins had four years of experience with the Fruitland Park Police Department and a year with the Wildwood Police Department, although both employment periods had on and off periods. He told Chief J.M. Isom that his activities with the Klan occurred while he was on leave.
Although the Klan’s membership has significantly diminished since their heydays prior to the 1960’s civil right movement, Florida does have one of the highest number of KKK groups in the country because part of the State is in the region of the Old South. Furthermore, Florida has a large immigrant population, and the Klan has been vehemently against the state’s large immigrant population..
According to Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, "The case law is very strong on this," he said. "There is an obvious conflict of interest. . . . The public has a perfectly reasonable suspicion that a police officer who is a member of the Klan will not treat certain people well."
The Southern Poverty Law Center has a map showing hate groups in the United States. They pinpoint some of the groups in Florida. Although there are numbers of them in the South, hate groups reside in all of the States, with more than twice the number of hate groups in California of any other state.
Recruitment may have been done by Elkins in person, but the Internet has proven a great resource for getting members. One site maintains, that it preaches love, not hate, with the message, “Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America! A message of Love Not Hate!” This principal Internet home of the KKK continues:
"There is a race war against whites. But our people - my white brothers and sisters - will stay committed to a non-violent resolution. That resolution must consist of solidarity in white communities around the world. The hatred for our children and their future is growing and is being fueled every single day. Stay firm in your convictions. Keep loving your heritage and keep witnessing to others that there is a better way than a war torn, violent, wicked, socialist, new world order. That way is the Christian way - law and order - love of family - love of nation. These are the principles of western Christian civilization. There is a war to destroy these things. Pray that our people see the error of their ways and regain a sense of loyalty. Repent America! Be faithful my fellow believers. "
National Director of The Knights
Pastor Thomas Robb
That message appealed to Elkins, and according to Isom membership of the Klan in the police force is rare.
We might hope that because who would want that “conflict of interest.”