Hours before members of the Loyal White Knights (LWK) were set to parade through the streets of Pelham, N.C., to celebrate president-elect Donald Trump’s victory last Saturday, the leaders who helped organize the parade turned on one another.
During a meeting at Christopher Barker’s house in Yanceyville on Friday night, Barker, the group’s founder and national leader, encouraged William Hagen, California’s state leader, to violently attack one of their members, according to news reports.
The altercation left LWK member Richard Dillon of Indiana suffering multiple stab wounds to his chest and Hagen with two black eyes and multiple cuts to his face. Barker, on the other hand, walked away unscathed, according to his mug shot.
Hagen, 50, of Anaheim, California, was arrested and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and Barker, 37, was charged with felony aiding and abetting assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.
The stabbing highlights an ongoing pattern of leadership difficulties and dissension in the ranks that have plagued LWK for months. Even the simple task of carrying out a highly publicized parade to celebrate President-elect Trump’s victory turned into a farce.
LWK first announced its victory parade online shortly after the presidential election. The announcement was quickly taken down after reporters exposed their plans. Yet, days later, LWK briefly reposted the announcement before confusingly removing it again.
The confusion continued.
An Exalted Cyclops –– Klan lingo for local leader –– said the parade was scheduled at 9 a.m. in Pelham, conveniently home to the LWK’s headquarters. But Amanda Barker, the Imperial Kommander and Barker’s wife, told reporters the parade was scheduled six hours later in Roxboro, a town about 40 miles away. Whether the change of plans was prompted by the presence of counter-protesters awaiting the parade in Pelham, or if the previous night’s fiasco shook their confidence, plans for the parade were scrapped.
Instead of a grand victory march, LWK members were reduced to yelling “White Power!” from their car windows while waving Confederate battle flags, American and LWK flags as 20 to 30 drove through the streets of Roxboro with a police escort.
While the planned parade falling apart may be understandable given the fact the group’s leader was sitting in jail at the time of the event, this isn’t the first time Barker’s personal failings have gotten in the way of Klan business.
Barker was called a “rat” after testifying against one of his own.
In 2015, he was witness cooperating with prosecutors in the trial against Glendon Scott Crawford, a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights. Crawford was convicted of attempting to build a radiation weapon to kill Muslims in upstate New York. Barker recorded his phones calls with Crawford for the FBI, hoping to receive a lesser sentence on a firearms conviction. His testimony last year in New York didn’t help him when he was again arrested on federal weapons charged this summer in South Carolina.
Realizations of Barker’s leadership shortcomings come as LWK, which touts itself as one of the largest and most active Klan groups in the country, struggles to maintain alliances with other white supremacist groups and keep high-ranking members in the fold.
Earlier this year, the LWK was a driving force in creating the Aryan Nationalist Alliance, a coalition of Klan, neo-Nazi and skinhead groups formed at the National Socialist Movement’s annual rally in Georgia. Without explanation, LWK was removed from the list of member organizations on the NSM website.
High-ranking members have left the LWK, too. LWK Florida Grand Dragon Ken Parker left to join NSM this past summer, a move heightening troubles within LWK’s ranks.
When Parker dropped out in August, friction between him and his former Klansmen seemed minimal. But Parker’s feelings towards his friends seem to have changed. “I did not, nor will I ever go back to LWK,” Parker said recently. The LWK then suffered the loss of one of its national officers when Imperial Kludd (chaplain) James Moore of Richmond, Va., followed Parker out the door.
But infighting aside, there are problems the group clearly has with violence. This is the second time in a year that Hagen has been involved in a stabbing. Earlier this year, Hagen stabbed a counter protester during a LWK demonstration in Anaheim, Calif.
While it’s unclear if LWK will survive this latest blemish, its members will surely question their loyalty to a Klan group full of misfits.