Racist Skinheads, Klan Groups Up in 2002

Ku Klux Klan: Around the country, Klan groups, which had been relatively unimportant on the radical right, seemed to surge. There was a large number of Klan rallies, cross-burnings, and other events. And several new groups appeared on the scene.

The Orion (for "our race is our nation") Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based in Alabama, was started in early 2003 and was highly successful in building up membership, particularly in Florida. For a time, the Orion Knights' Orlando klavern (or local chapter) was led by a woman, former paralegal Jamie Flynn, although she was replaced in November.

In North Carolina, the Cleveland Knights of the Ku Klux Klan started operations last summer with Virgil Griffin as imperial wizard, or top official. (Griffin is the former leader of the Christian Knights, which was ordered to pay $15 million in damages in a 1998 civil lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center over a South Carolina black church burned by Klansmen.) The Cleveland Knights has come on strong, holding four major rallies and absorbing another Klan group based in Tennessee.

The Georgia-based Southern White Knights, which temporarily went out of business in early 2003, was restarted last November and grew rapidly. A White Knights official in Ohio, Jeremy Parker, drew some attention when he posted pipe bomb-making instructions on the Internet in response to organizers of a Martin Luther King celebration. "Sure would hate to see anything happen," he wrote.

In Indiana, the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan gained three chapters and media attention. In Arkansas, Thom Robb's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the oldest of the nation's 45 current Klan organizations, was stirring. For the first time since 1999, non-headquarters chapters showed signs of real activity.

Neo-Confederates: The major drama in the world of neo-Confederate activism took place within the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), a 32,000-member southern heritage group whose national leadership is controlled by racist extremists. A pitched battle between moderates and radicals was shaping up as 2004 began, with two moderates planning to challenge Ron Wilson, the SCV's commander in chief, in elections at the SCV convention this July.

The League of the South, in most ways the leader of the neo-Confederate movement, was less active in 2003 than in prior years. But leader Michael Hill has announced plans for a "Southern National Congress" to be held in Montgomery, Ala., next October. Hill, whose speeches have increasingly emphasized revolution and race, hopes to launch a Southern political movement — something he has tried before, but that collapsed when various internal factions began squabbling.

Steve Wilkins, a founding league director who recently became a "senior adviser" to the board, has increasingly been pushing a radical theology along with a far-right Idaho pastor (see Taliban on the Palouse?). This theology, emphasizing religious government and a defense of the antebellum South, has swept the neo-Confederate world and also reached many Christian private schools and homeschoolers.

Other: This category includes a hodge-podge of groups espousing hateful doctrines that do not fit neatly into other areas.

The largest of these groups, the 15,000-member, white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), continued to drift further and further to the right. In the last year, its Web site began to call for readers to support Ernst Zundel, a Holocaust denier who has been held pending possible deportation from Canada for a year.

It carried links to and advertisements about Christian Identity, a wildly anti-Semitic theology that describes Jews as the biological descendants of Satan. And it began to carry essays from anti-Semitic lawyer Edgar Steele and Jean-Phillippe Rushton, a Canadian race scientist who heads the racist Pioneer Foundation.

Former Klansman David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), which has been something of a paper tiger since Duke started it up in 2000, continued to lose chapters during the year. And even the 15 chapters that remained seemed extremely low-key. The group also had organizational problems to contend with.

Last fall, Duke's hand-picked EURO leader, Bruce Breeding, quit after the Intelligence Report revealed his secret pornography empire. But EURO's fortunes could change when Duke, who has been serving a 15-month federal prison sentence for mail fraud, is released this May. A welcome-back party is planned by Duke aide Kenny Knight and others.

Holocaust denial organizations seemed to be doing well. The Institute for Historical Review, based in California, held two high-profile events last year and revamped its Web site. It also helped to fund an upcoming April denial conference in Sacramento that promises to be one of the largest such events in years.

That gathering is being hosted by Walter Mueller's European American Culture Council, which is becoming a leading Holocaust denier. Mueller, whose conference is also being funded by an Australian denial outfit, was a local CCC leader in 2000.

There was also a new addition to Holocaust denial literature last year with the inauguration of The Revisionist, published by long-time deniers Germar Rudolf, Frederick Toben and Jurgen Graf. The aim of the journal, which is based at Rudolf's home in Hastings, Tenn., will be to cover non-American Holocaust deniers.

Volksfront, a white supremacist group based in Portland, Ore., grew from five to eight chapters in 2003, spreading east to Pennsylvania and strengthening its presence in California. The group spent much of the year preparing for Aryan Fest 2004, which was held in Phoenix this January. By all accounts, the event went off well and, partly as a result, Volksfront is well-respected by other hate groups.

Black separatists: The count of racist black separatist groups went up almost 66% last year, largely driven by the addition of more than 30 additional chapters of the New Black Panther Party.

In addition, the Center began counting outlying chapters of the Georgia-based United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, a kind of cult built up around leader Dwight York, as hate groups. York was convicted last year of federal charges related to the sexual molestation of his youngest followers.

But the biggest story in this sector came from the Nation of Islam, the anti-white and anti-Semitic group led by Louis Farrakkan. The New York Times reported that key Nation leaders were controlling access to pop singer Michael Jackson, who had been charged with molesting a young boy. After the story appeared, the Nation denied involvement in Jackson's affairs.

Heidi Beirich, Michelle Bramblett, Nia Hightower and Laurie Wood contributed to this report.