Globetrotting white supremacist David Duke is asking supporters to send money, and fast, to help him fight unspecified charges stemming from his arrest last Friday in Cologne, Germany.
In a message “composed in a moving Car!” and posted this morning on his website, the former Klan leader claims that he was on his way to deliver a “message of heritage and freedom” when German authorities arrested and imprisoned him “by a gross twisting of travel laws.”
Now, he says, he’s desperate.
“To fight this case will cost a lot of money, time and effort,” he wrote. “The legal system is just as money-driven as it is in the U.S. and I must support myself far from my home during this period, never knowing from one minute to the next when shall come the proverbial knock upon the door. … While most of you will be getting ready for the warmth and love and friendship and family of Christmas, I will be far from home fighting the good fight.”
“My dear friends, I believe you will come through with great generosity even sacrifice at this time, even with all your personal needs during the Christmas season. … Perhaps you could copy this letter and post it on this and other threads so my message is heard by all those who have the inclination to help me in this pressing matter at this difficult time for me.”
Duke has butted heads with European authorities before. In 2009, he was arrested in Prague on suspicion of denying the Holocaust, a crime in the Czech Republic. He was expelled from the country, but charges against him were eventually dropped.
Yet despite the ease with which he avoided punishment for his Prague adventure, his newest plea for help should come as no surprise – for Duke is a veteran scam artist with a long history of persuading supporters to send him a buck. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud for ripping off hundreds of thousands of dollars from white supremacist donors who thought they were helping save the white race – money that actually went to finance Duke’s gambling habit. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined $10,000.
That was just the splashiest case. In the late 1970s, Duke lost the support of many comrades after he allegedly stole money from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, (the “kinder, gentler” Klan group he founded in 1975) and used it to refurbish his Louisiana home. In 1987, facing charges of reckless conduct after engaging in a shouting match with a black man, he raised at least $8,000 from backers who mistakenly believed they were helping 62 other white supremacists. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was fined $55. In 1995, the state of Louisiana fined him $1,111 for using illegal fundraising techniques during his unsuccessful run for governor four years earlier.
In 2000, even after federal authorities raided his home and carted away nearly two dozen boxes of papers, computer discs, credit card records and other documents – material that would be used to put him away three years later – Duke insisted on his innocence. “[T]his probe is nothing more than a political assassination on the part of government officials who are seeking to silence my voice on our European heritage and rights,” he wrote from his temporary home in Russia, where he was far beyond the reach of U.S. authorities.
His language today is nearly identical. “I am free now, but a desperate fight is ahead of me for my rights and the rights of the people of Europe to hear me,” he wrote this morning. “They truly do want to hear me and they need to hear me and my message. I think by now that you know my spirit, that I simply cannot back down from aiding our brothers and sisters [sic] efforts for their heritage in our ancient homelands of Europe any more than I could cease the fight for America. This a global effort to destroy our people, and it requires a global effort on our part to win it.”
He closed with a plea: “Please remember me and this sacred struggle for our people at this beautiful time of year that is such an expression of our exquisite culture and values. … If you would use this link and send something right away because you are so much needed at this time.”