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KKK, Neo-Seccessionists In Arkansas Roused by Trump Term

White Christian Nationalist organizers, including two groups operating in Arkansas, are lauding the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency.

After the election, Thomas Robb, founder and national director of the Knights Party, a faction of the Ku Klux Klan based in Boone County, issued a press release declaring that the white voting majority has finally spoken.

“I have been saying for a long time there’s been an anger among white middle class working class America,” Robb says, “who’ve been betrayed by the political establishment.”

Thomas Robb and his daughter Rachel Pendergraft  produce an online radio show and quarterly newspaper, host summer Klan camps for both adults and children, and sell KKK memorabilia for income. Robb concedes Trump is not a White Nationalist, but his isolationist political agenda is attractive to the movement.

“His opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, his stance on pro-life, his stand on the Second Amendment, his claim that he’ll destroy ISIS — these are all reasons that everyone should support Donald Trump. He’s altering the political landscape of America.”

Six days before the presidential election, the Knights Party attracted national media attention by endorsing Trump on the front page of its newspaper, “The Crusader.”

The Trump campaign  denounced the newspaper as “repulsive,” stating such views do not represent Trump supporters. Yet, five days after the election, President-elect Trump hired Stephen Bannon, as a senior White House advisor. Bannon is the former chair of Breitbart News, associated with "Alt Right" or extreme right-wing views.

The Loyal White Knights, based in North Carolina is celebrating Trump's victory, announcing on its website plans to hold a victory parade in early December. A Trump presidency, Knight's Party director, Thomas Robb says, will blunt race mixing and white genocide.

“We feel it would be a detriment to the world if white people become extinct,” he says. “And that sounds bizarre, but we feel there’s a genocide of white people, and we hope to put a halt to that.”

Credit Jacqueline Froelich/ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA
Thomas Robb (right) is the founder and national director of the Knights Party, a faction of the Ku Klux Klan based in Boone County.

Thomas Robb, a Michigan native, moved to the Ozarks in 1971, attracted by the presence of Christian Identity militia groups then-covertly operating in the region. And although he still burns the occasional cross to arouse media attention, Robb espouses a “kinder, gentler Klan.”

“Everybody has the right to love their heritage,” he says, “and when so-called minorities do that, it is applauded. But when white people do that, they are demonized.”

The KKK first organized in the 1860s to terrorize emancipated black Americans and progressive whites across the South, persisting through the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement before fading. Today, the neo-Confederate League of the South, based in Alabama, advocates a second Southern secession. Arkansas League of the South director, Robert Miller, based in Harrison, is bolstered by Trump’s election.

“White people across the South and beyond are no longer afraid of being called racist, bigots, homophobe, xenophobes, anti-Semites,” he says.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors racist organizing across the U.S., has been documenting what it refers to as the “Trump Effect,” in local communities, inflamed by racial and ethnic tension during the campaign and since Trumps election.

Before and after: Two days after the election a shuttered hospital, which for more than a century served both blacks and whites, was tagged with hate speech. Olivia Trimble, a local sign painter, took action.

Residents of Fayetteville were witness to the “Trump Effect” two days after the election when a shuttered hospital, which for more than a century served both blacks and whites, was tagged with hate speech. Within hours, Olivia Trimble, a local sign painter, took action.

“I felt like a had a bit of control,” she says, “a way to positively speak out against hate speech in our city and across the nation."

Olivia Trimble painted over the obscene racist message with the punctuated phrase: “Love. Always. Wins.”

Jacqueline Froelich is an award-winning senior news reporter for KUAF-91.3 FM in Fayetteville where she is a long-time station-based correspondent for NPR in Washington D.C. She covers energy, business, education, politics, the environment, and culture. Her work is broadcast locally on KUAF’s daily news magazine, “Ozarks At Large,” and statewide on Arkansas’s three public radio affiliates.
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