Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof’s manifesto cited the hate group Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) as his gateway into the world of white nationalism. The CCC is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South.
For decades, this racist group has had the ear of a number of prominent politicians, both state and federal, many of whom were members of the group and/or attended events put on the by CCC -- a group that has referred to African Americans as a “retrograde species of humanity.”
In 1998, a scandal erupted over prominent Southern politicians' ties to the brazenly racist group. After it was revealed that former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) gave the keynote speech at the CCC's 1998 national convention and that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had spoken to the group five times, both claimed they knew nothing about the CCC. As evidence of widespread association between Southern GOP officeholders and the CCC mounted, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson took the unusual step in 1998 of asking party members to resign from the group because of its racist views. But six years later, many Southern lawmakers were still pandering to and meeting with the CCC — and still pleading ignorance. According to a 2004 Intelligence Report review of the Citizens Informer, no fewer than 38 federal, state and local elected officials had attended CCC events between 2000 and 2004, most of them giving speeches to local chapters of the hate group.
Since the mid-2000’s the groups influence and access to politicians has dwindled considerably. In South Carolina, some influential CCC figures remain actively involved in the politics at the state level.
Roan Garcia-Quintana is one of these characters. Garcia-Quintana is a lifetime member of the CCC and sits on the organization’s board. Despite these associations, the Cuban-born white nationalist has remained very active in the state politics. Garcia-Quintana ran for the South Carolina state Senate’s District 7 seat as the Republican nominee in 2008 and came in second with 27 percent of the vote. Garcia-Quintana also sat on S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s campaign re-election steering committee, before he was forced to resign in 2013 after his ties to the CCC were made public. In comments after his resignation from Haley’s committee, he went on to talk about her physical characteristics (she is the daughter of Indian immigrants) in relation to white people. “She has the features of a Caucasian: her nose, her eyes, her cheeks, her mouth. That’s really how you describe it.”
CCC webmaster, white nationalist Kyle Rogers, is another South Carolina-based CCC member who was active in state politics until recently. Rogers served as a delegate to the Charleston County Republican convention in 2007, and Dorchester County, S.C., GOP officials confirmed to SPLC in 2013 that he was a member of that county’s Republican Executive Committee. Republican politicians there expressed embarrassment about Rogers’ participation, saying they had asked him to resign but were unable legally to eject him. Rogers also manages a flag store, Patriotic-Flags.com, which you can visit by clicking an ad on the CCC website. Rogers’ store sells the flag of the government of Rhodesia, the same flag sewn on the jacket worn by Roof in his Facebook profile.
In the hours since the authorization of Dylann Roof’s manifesto, the CCC website has crashed and the group is remaining tight-lipped. The longtime CCC leader Gordon Baum died earlier this year and the CCC are yet to name his successor. That individual is going to have to answer to that fact that the hate group was named by Roof, a man who murdered nine African Americans on Wednesday, as the group that acted as his gateway to white nationalism.
Correction: A photo caption in an earlier version of this story reported that patches on a jacket Dylann Roof wore in photos posted on his website were likely sold at patriot-flags.com, an online store managed by Kyle Rogers, the webmaster of the Council of Conservative Citizens. Rogers' store does not and has never sold those patches.