Skip to main content Accessibility
The Intelligence Report is the SPLC's award-winning magazine. Subscribe here for a print copy.

Ku Klux Klowns

The Loyal White Knights promised a major KKK parade to celebrate the election. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Even the best-laid plans don’t do well in jail.

At least that was the apparent lesson for Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, who found himself in the slammer unexpectedly last December, charged with the stabbing of a fellow Klansman on the eve of the group’s big post-election celebration.

Like many other hate groups, the Loyal White Knights were delighted by Donald Trump’s unexpected Election Day triumph, and they were in the mood to celebrate. After all, campaign promises of a big, beautiful wall on America’s southern border, plans for a national registry for Muslims and the deportation of as many as 12 million undocumented immigrants… What’s not to like?

It was time for a parade.

But not just any parade. The Loyal White Knights planned to take to the streets of Roxboro, N.C., robed and proud, to show the world just how very pleased they were. Or was it in Pelham?

You see, when the time came for the Dec. 3 event billed as a “Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade,” hundreds of anti-racist protesters, police and reporters arrived in Roxboro, where they waited for the Klansmen to arrive.

And waited.

And the Klan did show, finally, in a form. But rather than the loud, proud pageant they’d been advertising, the fearless warriors who are going to save the white man acted a little more like frightened scaredy-cats. Instead of actually following through on their Klavalkade, they tore bravely through Roxboro in a fast-paced column of cars and trucks fitted with Confederate battle flags.

It was so quick that hardly anyone noticed. It was easy to miss.

The imperial wizard, the great and powerful Chris Barker, had an excuse, albeit a somewhat embarrassing one. On the morning of the march, Barker was cooling his heels behind bars after a rough night out.

The night before, at Barker’s house in Yanceyville, N.C., an argument among Klan brothers turned ugly. Barker, and California Loyal White Knights leader William Hagen, were charged hours later with attacking fellow Klansman Richard Dillon of Indiana, leaving him with multiple stab wounds to the chest. And so the great and leaderless Kalavalkade turned into a fleeting race through town.

It isn’t known what led the Aryan heroes to turn on one another. The pressure of organizing the march? The adrenalin rush from Trump’s election? Too long a parade route for tired white legs? Or was it simply the fact that the most complex operation the Loyal White Knights could pull off was stapling bags of candy to racist flyers and tossing them in yards under cover of darkness?

Whatever the truth, the confusion surrounding the parade began even before the boys in the hoods quarreled. Pressed by the media for details of the Klavalkade early, a lower-ranking Exalted Cyclops of the group told a reporter that it was set for 9 a.m. in Pelham. But then Amanda Barker, the Imperial Kommander of the group and Chris Barker’s wife, said it was scheduled for six hours later in Roxboro, a town located about 40 miles away. Eventually, reporters landed in Roxboro.

Perhaps those expecting a grand display from Barker’s Klan were asking too much, even if he could stay out of jail. His loyalty to the cause has come into serious question in the last couple of years — after all, a Klansman is not supposed to sell out his brothers to the cops, even if he is in trouble and facing prison on a federal weapons charge.

But that’s precisely what Barker did.

In 2015, he began to cooperate with prosecutors in upstate New York in a case against Glendon Scott Crawford, a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. As it happened, Crawford had contacted Barker just as Barker was facing the weapons charges, and Barker didn’t hesitate. He got on the phone to the FBI and told them Crawford had just called him, seeking money to help construct a giant X-ray weapon with which he intended to mass murder Muslims.

Last year, Crawford and an accomplice were sent to prison for long terms, in part thanks to the help of Imperial Wizard Barker. But all was right in Barker’s world, once again, or so it seemed.

Except that it wasn’t. Barker now faces a new raft of weapons charges from an unrelated investigation — not to mention charges in the stabbing affair.