Imperial Klans of America

Founded: 
1996
Location: 
Dawson Springs, KY
Profiled Leadership: 
Ron Edwards

Until the late 2000s the second largest Klan group in the nation, the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) today is smaller but remains active despite a $2.5 million judgment against its leader and several followers in a lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008. IKA's headquarters and compound in Dawson Springs, Ky., have long served as the venue for the hate-rock gathering Nordic Fest.

In Its Own Words
"WE BELIEVE that the Man Adam (a Hebrew word meaning: ruddy, to show Blood, flush, turn rosy) is father of the White Race only. As a son of God (Luke 3:38), made in His likeness (Gen. 5:1), Adam and his descendants, who are also the children of God (Psalm 82:6; Hos. 1:10; Rom. 8:16; Gal. 4:6; I John 3:1-2), can know YHVH God as their creator. Adamic man is made trichotomous, that is, not only of body and soul, but having an implanted spirit (Gen. 2:7; I Thes. 5:23; Heb. 4:12) giving him a higher form of consciousness and distinguishing him from all the other races of the earth (Deut. 7:6, 10:15; Amos 3:2)."
— "Declaration of Beliefs," IKA website

"[T]here are today, many alien forces entering into the United States as well as every other country, bent upon its destruction and a One World Order."
— "20 Reasons to Join the Klan," IKA website

"[A] Christian brotherhood among our race must be revived to help save the world from the powers that be."
— "20 Reasons to Join the Klan," IKA website

"We strongly oppose actions that would lead any white patriot to incarceration, realizing that this renders them unable to continue the struggle on the outside where they can make the most difference."
— IKA website

Background
Employing classical Klan ideology, the IKA targets Jews, homosexuals, blacks, Latinos and "race traitors." The group predicts the "end of the race" by 2100 if white hate groups do not mobilize to protect white racial purity. "If America Only Had One Race," an article on the IKA website, seeks to raise fears of radical privacy violations and bans on white couples to be enacted by a future Muslim president. "Mr. Powers and Ms. Smith have both been genetically certified as members of the white race," read the fantastical piece. "They wish to have a child. They may not do so without violating the Act and thereby risking serious penalty. The Mandatory Miscegenation Act was enacted by Congress after several years of public debate. It was hailed by President Muhammad as 'the most important, the most fundamental civil rights legislation in the history of our nation.'"

The IKA subscribes to a variety of grand conspiracy theories concerning Jewish control of the establishment, especially the American media and government. The IKA says that Jews are directing America's foreign relations to help Israel. Their beliefs derive from members' adherence to Christian Identity, a particularly radical religion that vilifies Jews and non-whites. "WE BELIEVE the White, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and kindred people to be God's true, literal Children of Israel," the IKA writes. "Only this race fulfills every detail of Biblical Prophecy and World History concerning Israel and continues in these latter days to be heirs and possessors of the Covenants, Prophecies, Promises and Blessings YHVH God mad to Israel. … This chosen seedline making up the 'Christian Nations' (Gen. 35:11; Isa. 62:2; Acts 11:26) of earth stands far superior to all other peoples in their call as God's servant race (Isa. 41:8, 44:21; Luke 1:54)." The creed can be generously deemed a false interpretation, as the cited Bible passages make absolutely no mention of white racial superiority. Through similar "proof," the IKA lays claim to being the "chosen people" of the Bible, a key tenet of Christian Identity theology. "History, archaeology, and the Bible now prove that ancient Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-Scythian people are all Caucasian descendants of the House of Israel," the IKA says.

The IKA's Dawson Springs, Ky., compound serves as a venue for the annual Nordic Fest, a festival of racist music that attracts an array of white supremacist groups and their families, including skinheads, neo-Nazis, and other Ku Klux Klan groups. At the Spring 2006 gathering, a speech by Steven Boswell of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) provoked a brawl between the violent Vinlanders Social Club and the NSM.  The clash culminated in approximately 50 Vinlanders, headed by Eric "The Butcher" Fairburn, attacking five NSM members as Boswell's 10-year-old daughter screamed from the crowd, 'They're killing my daddy!"  IKA security stood by as the fight continued on before breaking up the warring racists.

Like other white supremacist groups, the IKA has in recent years focused its propaganda on illegal immigration. Though their website clearly states that the group does not condone violence, and that "ANY MEMBER COMMITTING ANY ILLEGAL ACT DOES SO ON THEIR OWN," IKA members have been party to brutal and unprovoked violence.  Given the harsh anti-immigrant stance of IKA, it was not surprising when on July 30, 2006, two IKA members, Jarred R. Hensley, 24, of Cincinnati and Andrew R. Watkins, 26, of Louisville, attacked Jordan Gruver while the 16-year-old was enjoying the Meade County Fair in Brandenburg, Ky., because they thought he was Latino (they used racial slurs, including "spic," during the attack). Gruver was beaten to the ground and kicked with steel-toed boots by his attackers, one of whom was 6 foot 5 inches and 330 pounds; Gruver weighed 150 pounds. The Klansmen cracked Gruver's ribs, broke his arm and broke his jaw. Hensley and Watkins were later sentenced to three-year prison terms for the attack. 

The SPLC filed a civil lawsuit against the IKA in July 2007, naming Ron Edwards, the IKA's founder, and several ranking members as defendants. By the summer of 2008, Edwards and several others had been deposed. During the trial, Edwards would defend himself by arguing that his racism consisted of only words and symbols. No matter how offensive his views might be to some people, he argued, he has a constitutional right to freedom of speech. "Nobody in America should be persecuted for what they believe in," he said.

But the SPLC made the case that the First Amendment did not immunize Edwards' activities. Edwards, the SPLC lawyers argued, enlisted men with violent histories and then sent them out to recruit new members — all in an effort to line his pockets with membership dues. Rather than try to control his recruiters by prescribing rules to govern their conduct, Edwards added fuel to the fire by preaching hatred and encouraging violence. For these reasons, the SPLC legal team said, Edwards should be held liable for Gruver's injuries.

The trial was held in November 2008. After deliberating for more than six hours, the jury returned the verdict finding that Edwards had failed to properly supervise the Klansmen who attacked Gruver and that he had encouraged their violence. The jury awarded just over $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages to Gruver. Based on the jury's apportionment of responsibility for Gruver's attack, Edwards will be responsible for 20% of the compensatory award as well as the entire punitive damages award. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant and serve as a deterrent to future misconduct.