Fueled by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s racist and anti-immigration inflammatory rhetoric, the Ku Klux Klan is reportedly seeing an increase in their membership.
On Saturday, the 150-year old racist organization, which has historically used violent tactics such as the lynching of black people and cross-burnings, held a rally in North Carolina in which they featured an image of Trump. The group also rallied behind one of his most famous campaign lines – “law and order” – which has been prominently plastered on its website.
“Our membership grows by the day,” Gary Munker, a self-nominated spokesperson for the group, was quoted saying by The Japan Times, adding that Trump’s victory is a sign that people are starting to “wake up.” Since its creation in 1866, the Klan has advocated for a white and Christian America.
Though Trump has publicly denounced the group, he has nevertheless been endorsed by the KKK and one of its former leaders, David Duke.
Munker has also publicly praised Trump’s rhetoric, particularly his attacks against immigrants and his threats of reporting millions more.
With Trump’s victory, so-called white nationalist alt-right groups have felt emboldened enough to spew their racist rhetoric and come out of the shadows. Nevertheless, the Klan would require many more registrations to be as powerful as it once was, as it currently has a membership of a mere 6,000 people compared to the 40,000 members it once boasted during the 1960s and the millions it had in the 1920s.
Munker’s own branch – the Loyal White Knights, one of about 40 local and regional groups that are part of the Klan – has a mere 700 members on Long Island, and an additional 500 in the rest of New York state.
Munker is known for distributing leaflets in nearby cities to attract new members. His latest attempt on Nov. 17, however, seemed to have backfired as about 200 local residents rallied against racism and the organization the following Sunday.
Distributing leaflets has become the Klan’s main activity in 14 states, Carla Hill, an investigative researcher with the Center on Extremism of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group against intolerance, has stated. Nevertheless, the latest data does not point to a resurgence of the group, she added.
Still, white supremacists seem to feel that they have a friend in Trump, with some stating that they now feel they have “a political space to present their views as legitimate,” Mark Potok, a specialist at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told The Japan Times.
“They have not been taken that seriously in 50 years,” he added.
The organization has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for targeting Jews, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and black people.