The Louisiana Klan leader indicted for the murder of a woman who tried to quit his group coerced three of his sons to join the Klan and used threats of violence to keep members from leaving, according to an interview with his wife in the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, released today. The case has brought back troubling memories of a town where Klansmen fiercely resisted the civil rights movement.
Theresa Foster said her husband, Raymond Charles "Chuck" Foster, "threatened everybody," creating the volatile atmosphere surrounding Cynthia Lynch's death last November near Bogalusa, La. She also describes the days leading up to Lynch's death and her attempt to dissuade the Oklahoma woman from joining the Klan.
"The way I look at it is, Raymond Foster is wholly to blame for what happened," she told the Intelligence Report.
Lynch signed up to join the Sons of Dixie Knights of the Ku Klux Klan after apparently reading Foster's MySpace page. She traveled to Bogalusa by bus from Tulsa to be initiated into the group. Foster allegedly shot her when she asked to leave, and other members of the group helped cover up the murder.
Lynch's death put the spotlight on Bogalusa, a town that was once such a hotbed of Klan activity that it was dubbed "Klantown, U.S.A." Today, local officials who believed the Klan was a relic of Bogalusa's past are re-evaluating this town where stark racial divisions still exist and the Klan remains a lurking presence.
"The town where Raymond Foster formed his Klan group may be the most telling aspect of this tragic story," said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly investigative journal that monitors the radical right. "This is a town where longtime black residents say they still live separate and unequal lives more than 40 years after the civil rights movement."
The public high school in Bogalusa still has separate proms for white and black students. And despite being the site of some of the most memorable clashes of the civil rights era, there is not a single historic marker commemorating those events. In 1965, the town's first two black sheriff's deputies were shot from a passing pickup truck while on patrol; one of them, Oneal Moore, died. A suspect was arrested, but no one was ever prosecuted. Moore's name is now engraved on the Civil Rights Memorial at the SPLC's offices in Montgomery.
"Everything is still racially divided," the Rev. Coleman Moses, a lifelong black resident of Bogalusa, told the Intelligence Report. "But the methods have changed. They're more covert than back in the 1960s. You listen for code words. There is a KKK presence."
Also, in the Summer 2009 issue of the Intelligence Report:
* "From Hate to Hurt" features four experts discussing the effect of hate propaganda in the aftermath of a recent killing spree in Brockton, Mass., where the alleged gunman reportedly told police he had been reading racist websites and was "fighting for a dying race."
* "Beyond the Bishop" reports on the recent Vatican uproar over an anti-Semitic bishop. While the controversy focused on the bishop, little was learned about the beliefs of his order, which reflects much of his thinking.
* "National Anarchism" examines a California group called the Bay Area National Anarchists, an organization that claims to represent a new and more vital form of anarchism but in reality is a white nationalist project.
* "Going Under" tells the story of Bart McEntire's undercover work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — work against white supremacist organizations in the Southeast that helped solve a series of murders and other crimes.