By Kyle Barr and Ricky Soberano
Only four of the thousand alleged members of the Ku Klux Klan whose names were made public last week by the Anonymous hacker group live in New York.
Spelling it out in random letters on a Pastebin document, Anonymous revealed the identities in what they called “Operation KKK 2015.” In the letter posted before the list, Anonymous stated they hoped their efforts would “spark a bit of constructive dialogue about race, racism, racial terror and freedom of expression.”
Jon Welch is one the names in the list. His Facebook profile photo shows the face of a young man in a hat and denim jacket, who looks mildly at the camera. His posts to Facebook include support for veterans and New York Confederates. Both in the hacker list and his Facebook page, he is titled “Imperial Wizard of the CNKKK.”
Another name on the list, Nathan Roberts, points at a Facebook profile of a man wearing a beanie cap and square rimmed glasses. On his jacket, a small patch reveals the symbol for the Sons of Odin, a sub-group of the KKK. Robert is named “Grand Dragon” in the list and the Facebook profile.
None of the contacts were available for comment.
In the few days after the release of the list, many of the people singled out by Anonymous took down their LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ accounts. Daniel Mankin of Corning City, New York took down his Facebook account, and Jason McCallum from Addison NY, with his picture kissing a woman, were also taken down. McCallum listed his job on Facebook as the “gas flow regulator at Auschwitz.”
“We’ve never had an opportunity to unveil and see behind the Hood of who the Klan members are,” Professor Robert Chase of Stony Brook University who taught a History of Spying course that looks into the surveillance that was done across the country throughout history said. “Now the real issue would be if they could break into their accounts and show acts of legal wrongdoing like burning a church. Something that is illegal not just espousing racism ideology which they have every legal right to be racist.”
The 1,000 names are only a fraction of the 5,000 to 8,000 KKK members that the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates are in the United States. The lack of known members of the KKK from Long Island on the list, however, obscures the historical fact that Long Island has harbored racist groups, from the KKK to the Nazi party, and some became entrenched in the development of the Long Island community.
“At their height, approximately one in seven people on Long Island were members of the Klan,” Dr. Neil Buffett, a History Professor at Suffolk County Community College, who teaches a class on the History of Long Island, said. “At the KKK’s height, there were approximately 25 to 30,000 people living on Long Island.”
There were three periods of the history of the KKK. The first boom was in the late 19th century during the Reconstruction period of the South, until they went underground. The popularity of the KKK was brought up by the book “The Clansman,” by Thomas Dixon Jr., and the subsequent movie “Birth of a Nation.” They died down leading up to the 1920’s, where xenophobic sentiments against immigrants, especially from Central and Eastern Europe, brought them back.
“People are always afraid of losing out on something. These people, whatever generation were talking about, they say, they’re taking our jobs, my jobs,” Buffett said.
It was in this period, with the large number of white people moving away from the city and the large number of African Americans and immigrants, would find major purchase in the lives of Long Islanders.
“People were trying to preserve, in this face of this huge wave of massive foreign immigration, what is Americanism,’” Buffett said. “People are talking about this, you know, what is American, what is white, are we losing our nation, what does it mean to be an American? it’s the same thing they say now, nothing changes.”
“I am from Long Island, and there have always been significant pockets of racism and anti-Semitism in Long Island. Garden City was once “restricted” – not allowing Jews to buy homes,” Stony Brook University Professor of Sociology, Michael Kimmel said in an email.
The presence of KKK on Long Island has died down. There are only a few pockets left, with the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, one of the only remaining bastions still operational in South Hampton.
On November 11, South Hampton police reported that the Loyal White Knights were seen been placing flyers around School Street and on a car in Gardinia Avenue the week before. In little waterproof bags, the flyers read “Support Missouri Police for taking out two —— thugs who are in hell where they belong…. White Power!”
“So now we’re seeing it again after the Black Lives Matter movement, after Barack Obama being president and so i think it’s one of those moments that is a continual history of resurgent white superiority, white racism that’s founded on violence and we’re seeing a fourth iteration of it,” Chase said.