CORRECTION: Two southern Virginia groups promote unity in very different ways
Updated On: Sep 13 2013 04:52:13 PM CDT
On Thursday night, WDBJ7 broadcast a news report about recruitment efforts of the Ku Klux Klan in our area. We want to correct that report.
We have spoken again Friday with Robert Jones, a member of the Klan who appeared in Thursday night's news report. Mr. Jones told WDBJ7 Friday that he made a mistake when he implied in the interview that the sheriffs of Pittsylvania and Henry Counties are members of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Jones now tells us that neither Sheriff is a member of the Klan.
We would like to apologize to the sheriffs of both counties and acknowledge that law enforcement officers in these areas have worked to build positive relationships among all members of the community.
The corrected version of the story is below.
Two groups in southern Virginia say they are on the same mission: unity.
One of those organizations is brand new: Danville United. The other has been around for more than a hundred years: the Ku Klux Klan.
It may or may not shock you that the KKK still exists, but you might be surprised to find out who it is recruiting as members: people in Danville neighborhoods.
One week ago people found a flier in their yard from the KKK asking them to join.
WDBJ7 wanted to know why it's recruiting in Danville and why now. Members agreed to answer questions but first asked me to follow them past the state line, through North Carolina's back roads, to a tobacco field.
It was dark, but the infamous long robes and hoods are easily recognizable any time of day.
"We are one of the largest and most active Klan groups in the United States," said a member of the KKK.
The group is part of the Loyal White Knights chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Most members cover their faces and keep their identities secret.
The leader of the group gave his name, Robert Jones.
"Now that I'm in my own back yard I feel more comfortable that way because of the type of work we do during the day," Jones said. "You don't know who the Klan is. We could be the guy you're buying groceries for in the grocery store, or we could be your neighbor."
This group says it's active in Southern Virginia and Northern North Carolina.
Members posted video on their website from their last meeting in Eden, North Carolina where members burned crosses and pushed a newer focus, one for unity among Americans to force Mexican and Latin American immigrants out of this country.
"We're working for equal rights for whites," Jones said. "The people coming here now are Mexicans crossing our borders illegally, breaking the law right off the bat. They bring with them their culture they're way of life and like I tell people, it don't matter whether you're black or white, we're going to have another civil war in this country if our country doesn't hurry up and do something about our border problem we have."
On the same night I interviewed the KKK members, another group met to promote unity among all races and cultures, Danville United.
"There's too many people in the city that want see us move forward and even with that, with them coming in and doing that, there's too many other people that have a stake in moving us to a more united, a more cohesive city, area, nation," said David Wilson, a member of Danville United.
Florencio Gonzalez manages Los Kritos, a Latino business on Route 58 in Henry County. He has lived in the area for more than a decade, and is working to become a citizen.
Gonzalez says he feels discriminated against, nearly every day at the bank and in other stores, but hasn't heard from the KKK.
"I'll try to answer them, why they doing that, or why they being like that," Gonzalez said.
"It's a unity between white brothers and white Christian men and women. So, we're accomplishing exactly what we want," Jones, with the KKK said.
"Where do we go from here? How do we improve relations? How do we be more tolerant of each other? And I think that will lead us to a place where we can be united at some point," Wilson, with Danville United said.
A point that's uncertain as the two groups seek unity in two totally different ways.
The Klansmen say they picked up three new members from the recruiting fliers and will continue to recruit members.
Danville police are investigating and say this violates a code of sending advertisements without written permission.
Investigators say in the last 10 years, KKK fliers were found in Danville yards three times.
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