Pelham, North Carolina, is just across the border from Danville, Virginia, which sports one of the largest Confederate flags in the country flying beside U.S. 29. There’s not much going on in Pelham, but it does have a post office, and a P.O. box there is the address of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, the Ku Klux Klan group that’s planning a rally in Charlottesville July 8.
The Loyal Whites are led by Imperial Wizard Christopher Barker, who, before he can come here, has a June 26 court date in Yanceyville, North Carolina, for aiding in the stabbing of a Klan colleague at Barker’s house in December, on the eve of a rally celebrating the victory of Donald Trump.
Currently his $75,000 bond prohibits him from leaving Caswell and Rockingham counties in North Carolina.
After leaving a message on the Knights’ hotline, C-VILLE Weekly received a call from a man identifying himself as Robert Jones, grand dragon of North Carolina.
Jones says he’s 41 and a landscaper. He declined to say how many members the Loyal White Knights have across the country, because that’s something only the imperial wizard—Barker—would know. Nor would Jones reveal how many members are in North Carolina.
“It’s an invisible empire,” he says. “We don’t tell the numbers.”
He estimates between 100 and 150 will attend the event at Jackson Park, which was recently renamed Justice Park.
“Some members will be wearing robes,” he says, noting that it’s illegal in most states to wear the face-covering hoods. Others will wear black military garb. And many will be packing heat, he says.
Presumably that doesn’t include felons like Barker, who reportedly has a lengthy rap sheet and is alleged to be an FBI informant.
The reason for coming to Charlottesville? “We think it’s a shame they’re erasing our Confederate history, our white history,” says Jones. “It’s a spit in our face to take down our monument.”
In the alt-right, white nationalist world, the KKK is seen as bottom feeders. UVA grad Richard Spencer, who led the tiki-torch march in Charlottesville May 13, told the Washington Post in a text, “The KKK is not my scene.”
Jones says he doesn’t know who Spencer is or care what he says. “We don’t try to be more liberal. I don’t want to be around a black person, Mexicans, Jews, Asians, Arabs. I don’t care about any other race.” He quotes Leviticus to justify separation of the races.
And he has no problem being called a racist. “I prefer being called a racist because I’m proud about my race,” Jones declares.
Jones is unperturbed about Barker’s rap sheet or involvement in the stabbing. “There’s always going to be fights, no matter what organization you’re in,” he says.
“I live Klan, I breathe Klan,” he says. And while other races are not welcome to join, white women are. Barker’s wife, Amanda, is the gang’s “imperial kommander.”
After the Charlottesville rally, members will have a cross burning—Jones calls it a “cross lighting”—on a farm that belongs to Virginia Grand Dragon James Moore, according to Jones. The public is not invited.
Two days after chatting with Jones, C-VILLE received a call from Mike, who refused to give his last name, but said he’s the grand dragon of North Carolina—the same title Jones claimed. Mike, 60, says he lives near Pelham, but he doesn’t know Jones.
“Until you’re a member of the Klan, nobody knows anybody,” says Mike, even, apparently, in tiny Pelham.
Mike says the Loyal White Knights are white separatists. “We don’t hate anyone—blacks, Jews. Well, I hate Jews.” Race mixing and transgendering are also on his hate list because they’re “not God’s law.”
Mike says he’s probably going to wear his robe and hood, and the grand dragon’s attire is green.
Both Jones and Mike say they don’t anticipate any violence, but if it happens, it will be from the “antifascists and Communists,” says Jones.
Mike is unable to clear up the mystery of Robert Jones but says he’ll have Imperial Wizard Barker give C-VILLE a call.
Within a few minutes, the phone rings, and it’s…Robert Jones, who denies that he’s Barker. He says the reason Mike didn’t know him is because, “We’ve got five or six Mikes” answering the hotline. “He must be new,” adds “Jones.”
Who is that masked man?
Journalist Nate Thayer has written extensively about the KKK for his blog and for Vice, an online magazine. “That’s almost certainly Barker,” he says of the phone calls from Jones, which is a favorite alias of Loyal Whites because Robert Jones was the KKK grand dragon of North Carolina in the ’60s. Or it could be “James Moore,” the alias of a Sandston, Virginia, member named James Seay, says Thayer.
The Loyal White Knights have lost about 80 percent of their membership since the stabbing incident in December, according to Thayer.
The July 8 appearance in Charlottesville “is an odd date to pick” because there’s another major Klan event on that date in Kentucky, he says. “I’d be surprised if 10 people show up.”
Thayer calls Barker the “teflon imperial wizard” because “he’s been arrested over 50 times with a dozen felonies” and isn’t in jail. Thayer alleges Barker is a confidential informant for the FBI.
Barker talks to the media, says Thayer, because the Loyal White Knights are “a personal business for Chris Barker,” and every time they announce a public event, they get publicity and new members call the hotline.
“These guys all have guns,” he says. “They hate black people and gay people, and these antifas, they really hate. If these two sides get together, there will be violence.”
Carla Hill is an investigative researcher for the Center for Extremism, and she says of the 40 Klan groups in the U.S., the Loyal White Knights are one of the largest and most active Klans. It’s also one of the older ones but it’s only been around since 2011 because there’s so much turnover, she says.
Since the December arrests and “drunken brawl” that “further damaged Barker’s reputation,” along with the rumor he’s an FBI informant, she estimates the Loyal Whites membership is down to between 50 and 70 people.
The group has aligned itself with neo-Nazis, she says, but did not show up at last fall’s National Socialist Movement event.
Flyering, an activity that takes one person, is a regular endeavor of the Loyal Whites, and of 39 KKK distributions that have been reported in the country this year, 16 were done by the Pelham organization, says Hill.
The group picked Charlottesville “because of all the alt-right stuff going on here,” says Hill. “They try to glom onto more mainstream events.”
Says Hill, “This is a group that’s really struggling. Unless they get new members, I can’t imagine it’s going to be an impressive showing.”