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Klantucky Pride

June was an active month of conflicting pride in Kentucky. On June 3rd, a Kentucky Klansmen from Laurel County pulled a gun at a human rights event in Corbin. Undeterred, the human rights activist in Corbin planned another event for June 24. The Trinity White Knights vowed on twitter to unite the Klan and bring more than two to counter. This particular Klan chapter began flyering eastern Kentucky neighborhoods to unite parents against critical race theory and start neighborhood watches.

The Klan is not new to Kentucky. The Invisible Empire of the Klan has been active for over a century and persists in some regions more than others. Recruiting efforts and activism increases during moral panics, civil unrest and elections.

Since 9/11, there have been over forty different Klan chapters tracked by the Southern Poverty League Center across Kentucky. Today, none are tracked as their membership dwindled as other anti-government groups grew.

William Bader is an out and proud Kentucky Klansmen. In 2015, he “drove hundreds of miles from Kentucky – or, rather, “Klantucky" he quipped” – to South Carolina to defend the removal

Klansmen William Bader of Kentucky in 2015

of the Confederate Flag from the statehouse. This was the Summer Dylann Roof murdered 9 Black Americans at their church. Bader claimed to be the imperial wizard of the Trinity White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. It is a small Kentucky Klan founded in 2012 and thought to be inactive.

Image From the Guardian 2015, 'Still a racist nation': American bigotry on full display at KKK rally in South Carolina

William Bader and other Klans people arrived at the Corbin rally a couple of hours after the event started. They argued with law enforcement where they could counter protest. Within a few minutes they were down the block and kept separate from the human rights activist who had permits. Law enforcement was present to protect the first amendment rights of the lawful assembly.

The four Klans people were shortly joined by three more supporters. A bearded man displaying the Proud Boy logo joined along with a female companion.

KKK and Proud Boy counter protests Pride event in Kentucky

Kenneth Hutton, one of the local Klansmen handing out KKK cards on June 3rd, also joined.

The Klan chanted "Don't let them corrupt our children. Say no to gay pride" to those driving by. They livestreamed on their YouTube channel.

At the human rights rally, honks of support kept spirits high. Occasionally, they were flipped off and told to "find Jesus". Someone drove by waving a confederate flag from the window.

Confederate flag displayed at Pride event in Corbin Kentucky

Man removes pride flag in Sanders Park in Corbin Kentucky

The far-right group left the area within an hour of arrival while the Pride event carried on as planned. Down the road, a man pulled over so he could remove the pride flag draped on the Colonel Sanders statue.

Earlier someone had posted signs on all sides of the park with "Jesus loves you, Jesus died for you."

These events in Corbin mirror what our public spaces look like today. Public Schools. Libraries. Grocery stores. Churches. Social media.

In May, A Pulaski County middle school student rode the bus dressed in a white hooded klan robe.

Pulaski County Middle School Student dresses as KKK

They dressed as the Confederate Army general Nathan Bedford Forrest who became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

In Madison County, confederate flags were used to harass Black students. The Department of Justice just finished investigating this as a civil rights violation.

Stephanie Compton


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