Another one bites the dust.
Riddled with informants and with one of its members off to federal prison, the Knight Riders, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan officially disbanded on Jan. 4, shutting down its chapters, or klaverns, in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee and Virginia.
“I know the Nazis want to say I’m a quitter and a coward,” Jeff Jones, the 53-year-old imperial wizard, or national leader, of the Knight Riders, told Hatewatch today. “I don’t care what they think. I don’t want to go to jail and be surrounded by the people I don’t want to be around in the first place. The jails are full of blacks and Mexicans.”
Just before Christmas, a member of the Knight Riders, Michael Lee Fullmore, 30, was sentenced in Virginia to 52 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to two counts of providing a firearm to a convicted felon. Fullmore, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, came to the attention of the FBI when he began taking steps to establish a more violent and radical sub-group of the Klan.
He was arrested in June 2013, after telling a government informant that he wanted to firebomb a Catholic church with a large Latino congregation in Claxton, Ga., where he lives.
Jones said the Knight Riders have held dozens of anti-immigration rallies and protests – “with legal permits” – across the South over the last 10 years. But the group, he insisted, has never advocated violence and he called Fullmore a “rogue Klansman.”
“Me being the leader of the group, if he really did do something like that, firebomb that church, I would be implicated,” Jones said. “What I’m thinking, because of what this guy is doing out here with absolutely no direction by the Klan to do any such thing, [is] I certainly could be taken down.”
Jones refused to say how many members the Knight Riders had. “The bigger the group gets,” he said, “and the longer it’s been around, the greater the chance of it being infiltrated and its going down. How many Klan groups have gone down in the past? Countless numbers.”
Jones, who first joined the Klan in 1981 when he was 21, said his life in the invisible empire “is over and done.”
“I think there has to be another avenue of approach,” he said, adding that he in no way is “quitting the movement.”
“I’m what you call a racist,” Jones said, adding that whatever path he takes next will be law-abiding.
He said it was unclear whether his former followers will join other Klan groups. “What direction they’re going to go, I don’t know,” he said. “They’re on their own now.”
Jones said he still worries that FBI agents might show up at his door in the middle of the night, even though “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“That person,” Jones said of Fullmore, “had everybody for the most part hoodwinked as far as his integrity as a Klansman and these things won’t be tolerated and I’m not going to be in charge of an organization that is harboring idiots.”
Jones said Fullmore – “a real nut job” – had been a member of the group for several years and had been brought in by “our recruitment department.”
The former imperial wizard blamed Hollywood, the media and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes this blog, for falsely characterizing the Klan as a terrorist group and attracting people like Fullmore.
“You guys are fueling the nut jobs in the world to come into our organization,” he said. “We’ve weeded them out. We’ve got them left and right and got rid of them. It was a constant problem, I guarantee you.”
Along with the idiots and nut jobs in the Knight Riders, Jones said government informants heavily infiltrated the group.
“FBI got in there and tore it to pieces,” he said, “and idiots from the inside helped finish it off. It was destroyed from within. There was no sense carrying on with the Knight Riders.”
Jones said Jews were out to destroy the United States and “the entire Anglo race” because of “what happened to them in Nazi Germany.” He said “the Jews” are calling the shots, manipulating Latinos and blacks, including “that joker in the White House.”
Still, he said, he does not understand why the Southern Poverty Law Center “calls us a hate group.”
“I don’t get it,” he said. “You guys are so hateful towards us and we’ve never done anything to you.”