Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Scary

I was flipping through the channels last night and heard this headline, but paid it no attention. Then today, I come in to work and everyone it talking about it. In a short time, its gathered national attention. Many have thought the Klan had disintegrated, well according to this article, that's not the case.

Eight people have been arrested in connection with the slaying Sunday of a Tulsa, Okla., woman who tried to back out of a weekend Ku Klux Klan initiation at a remote campsite in northeastern St. Tammany Parish, authorities said.

Raymond “Chuck” Foster, 44, of Bogalusa, who authorities said is a high-ranking Klan member, is accused of shooting the unidentified white woman with a .40-caliber handgun during an argument Sunday afternoon about her intention to leave the initiation, authorities said Tuesday.

Foster and the seven other white men and women implicated in the case tried to cover up the slaying, St. Tammany and Washington Parish sheriff’s deputies said.

Someone had removed the bullet from the woman’s body, investigators determined. The woman’s clothing, other personal effects and the campsite next to a sandbar in the Pearl River Navigation Canal were set afire, said Capt. George Bonnett, St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s spokesman.

The canal, a waterway which gives marine traffic access to the Pearl River and is next to the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge, is a popular area for boating, fishing and camping, Washington Parish authorities said.

Foster, booked Monday with second-degree murder, was being held without bond at St. Tammany Parish Prison in Covington, deputies said.

Bonnett said the seven others, all of whom are from the Bogalusa area and are believed to be Klan members, were booked Monday and Tuesday with obstruction of justice and remained in St. Tammany Parish Prison on $500,000 bonds.

Deputies identified the seven as Shane Foster, 20; Frank Stafford, 21; Timothy Michael Watkins, 30; Alicia M. Watkins, 23; Andrew Yates, 20; Random Hines, 27; and Danielle Jones, 23.

The shooting victim, whose identity has not been confirmed, was recruited over the Internet and was supposed to return to Oklahoma after joining the KKK in Louisiana to start recruiting new members, St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies said in a statement.

The woman arrived by bus last week in Slidell, met two people, and during the weekend was taken to the campsite, deputies said.

Washington Parish sheriff’s investigators became aware of her death early Monday morning after getting an anonymous tip about two men turning up at a Circle K convenience store near Bogalusa with bloodstains on their clothes, said Shannon Lyons, deputy chief of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office Criminal Division.

Frank Stafford and Shane Foster, who is Chuck Foster’s son, went into the store north of the intersection of La. 16 and La. 21 and asked the store clerk how to get bloodstains out of their clothing, Bonnett said.

Once alerted, investigators found the woman’s body Monday a few miles south of the campsite under loose brush at the end of Lock No. 3 Road near the village of Sun, deputies said.

Later Monday, deputies said, they found the campsite along with a number of items, including weapons, several flags and six Klan uniforms — five white and one black.

Bonnett noted that the Klan members moved the woman’s body from a wooded, remote campsite only accessible by boat to a roadside accessible to the public.

Lyons said investigators believe Frank Stafford, Shane Foster and Chuck Foster had intended to dispose of the body but that plan went “haywire.”

By telephone Monday, deputies were able to persuade the five others still hiding in the woods and Chuck Foster, who ended up elsewhere in the woods, to surrender. All but Foster were being held on $500,000 bonds, deputies said.

Bonnett said the FBI has been contacted about the shooting. An FBI spokeswoman deferred comment Tuesday to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Though tales of Klan activity may seem like a throwback to another era, experts say the Klan has chapters in Louisiana as well as 5,000 to 6,000 members nationally.

It was unclear Tuesday exactly how Chuck Foster and the Bogalusa Klan chapter deputies say he headed fit into the Klan’s regularly changing hierarchy.

At a news conference Tuesday, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain identified Chuck Foster as an “imperial wizard” who headed the Dixie Brotherhood of the Ku Klux Klan, Bonnett said.

Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which tracks hate groups, said the descriptions he has been given of the patches that the Louisiana Klansmen were wearing seem to be similar to the insignias used by the Dixie Rangers Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Dixie Rangers is headquartered in Walker and has another chapter in Shreveport, Potok said.

Also, a Web site entry for a white supremacist ministry shows that a Chuck Foster held a high-level position with the Southern White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 2001, identifying that man as “Imperial Wizard Rev. Chuck Foster.”

The experts who study such matters say KKK organizations frequently dissolve and splinter into different factions, making them difficult to track.

“The Klan has splintered into a lot of small groups with a range of leadership from sophisticated to pathetic,” said Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates in Boston who has studied and written extensively about white supremacist organizations and hate groups.

“Its history is as a white terrorist organization that preaches violence,” Berlet said. “People who join it should not be surprised when violence is used to deal with struggles within the group itself.”

Potok said five other Klan chapters are known to exist in Louisiana in addition to the Dixie Rangers chapters. The Bayou Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has chapters in Homer, Shreveport, St. Amant and Walker. The National Aryan Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has a chapter in Winnsboro, he said.

Nationally, there are 34 Klan organizations divided into 155 chapters, Potok said.


Many of my colleagues raised the question if this sudden resurgence in the Klan is due to them not being happy about a black president. I'm sure that has something to do with it. It's kind of like they were just waiting for the right time, and with all the negativity people still have for the election coupled, they may be capitalizing on the hate. I hope that I'm wrong, but I fear that I'm not.

What is it about a person's skin color that makes people hate them so? If you want to hate a person, then that's your God-given right, but there is no reason to start or join a group whose main purpose is to eradicate an entire race of people just because they are different.

Sometimes one mus wonder what kind of world we are living in when these kind of things can happen. Even more so, the fact that they kill their own! No one is safe when it comes to hate groups. If there is anyone that needs to be eradicated it is them...not by murder, but by some other more peaceful means. Although personally, I wouldn't mind going medieval on each and every one of them for the pain they have caused their victims and their families over the years.

4 comments:

Talair said...

What is it about a person's skin color that makes people hate them so?

To my understanding, one of the reasons the Klan emerged after the Civil War was that poor whites, who were now struggling even more than they had been before, were encouraged to view the freed slaves as scapegoats for all their suffering. Who encouraged this belief? The wealthier class. They divided poorer class in order to distract them from the fact that they were all being exploited in terms of unfair sharecropping agreements. And these attitudes and endured for hundreds of years, so it's really no surprise, especially with the resurgence of that kind of hate mongering that came up during the election, that they may start to show themselves again.

Very sad.

The Natural State Hawg said...

The Klan is always slinking around and they're always up to something. I don't know if we've seen a whole lot of increased activity as of late because they're always scheming.

If we're lucky, the Klan will splinter into more factions and turn on each other. The fewer of them around, the better.

The Natural State Hawg

Xixi said...

This is really sad. When we all thought we are moving forward, something like this comes up. I thought the KKK is through but apparently not. I just hope we all learn how to co-exist without violence.

Xixi

The Fitness Diva said...

The Klan is alive and well, just a bit more covert. This is a perfect time for them to recruit new members, and they are taking advantage of that.
From the torrent of hate I've been reading across message boards and forums from angry, disgruntled Republicans, some of who are hiding their racism behind a mask of concern about political issues, they have a fertile crop to choose from.