Part 1: Resurgence of the KKK - WSET.com - ABC13

Part 1: Resurgence of the KKK

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Reporter:  David Tate

Henry Co., VA - Since 2001, the number of hate groups across the country has nearly doubled.  The Southern Poverty Law Center says for the first time since they've been tracking these groups, the number is now more than 1,000.

One in particular, the Ku Klux Klan, has factions that are making southside Virginia their epicenter.

"The property [was] left to us in their will in order for us to keep the meetings going on. So we're not going anywhere," said local Klan leader Stan Martin.

Since the 70s, the KKK has been suffering through splits from within its ranks that, 40 years later, is evolving into two general directions: one that adheres to the hatred and fear mongering of days gone by, and one that maintains white separatism but is now focused on the reason for their racial bias - the federal government.

"I did not get involved with the Ku Klux Klan because I hate people. I got involved with the Ku Klux Klan because of what they are doing to my country," said Dennis LeBonte of Powhatan.

And over the past few years, that second group has been taking full-advantage of a membership that goes back generations and across state lines, exploiting discontent fueled by issues like equal rights for homosexuals, taking God out of schools and immigration.

"The whole anti-immigration issue. Also, we still have... every time there's been a significant advance by African-Americans in this country there has been a resurgence of the Klan," said Dr. Wornie Reed who leads Virginia Tech's Center For Social Justice.

Groups like Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan which claims Martinsville as its headquarters.

On a day in early April they organized nearly 100 Klansman, from a half dozen states, to assemble on the steps of the old Patrick County Courthouse.

"Ladies and gentleman of this county the Ku Klux Klan is here to stay. We're here to fight for what other people want. You want peace? I want peace, but I want peace for my race," shouted Bradley Jenkins to a small crowd.

Some locals were among the Klan, but most of those that stopped to watch, seemed more stunned than anything.

In 2011, KKK rallies will be held in Patrick County, Eden, Max Meadows, and Dunagan. 

But no one place will hold as many rallies as are being held in Henry County, in a field hidden by trees, behind a rebel flag. There, nearly a half dozen cross-lightings are planned this year - expected to draw Klansman from much of the country.

On Friday in part 2 of Resurgence of the KKK, David Tate will go inside that compound for a closer look at what goes on, and we'll also talk to that county's sheriff to get his take on this suddenly overt display of what is also known as the "invisible empire."

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