KKK: You must be THIS bigoted to ride this ferris wheel
February 16, 2007 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Somehow the Canon City, Colorado branch of the KKK was not quite as fear-inspiring as their brethren to the South. Home page.
posted by spock (29 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by spock at 6:37 AM on February 16, 2007

That Ferris wheel picture is priceless. Thanks.
posted by rhymer at 6:40 AM on February 16, 2007

Their racists Spock, but not as we know it.
posted by DragonBoy at 6:45 AM on February 16, 2007

A friend of mine swears his father has a book about the history of Belleville, Ontario that includes a photo of the "Belleville Glee Club" taken during the 1920's. The photo? A bunch of guys in hoods and white robes.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:47 AM on February 16, 2007

Somewhat OT, but there is an interesting bit on this University of Notre Dame archives page under "Miscellaneous University Records" that is entitled: Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and Notre Dame: 1920s, 1930s, 1970s.

Ummm, 1970s?

posted by spock at 6:59 AM on February 16, 2007

In the 1920's Denver was pretty much "run" by the KKK. No need to inspire that much fear if you're top dog, I guess.
posted by negatendo at 7:12 AM on February 16, 2007

cf. Joseph Mitchell, The Downfall of Fascism in Black Ankle County.
posted by QuietDesperation at 7:15 AM on February 16, 2007

Apparently were led by Exalted Cyclops Arnold and drank Kold Koka Kola.

I'm guessing they drove those tiny shriner cars to the lynchings.
posted by unSane at 7:19 AM on February 16, 2007

...not quite as fear-inspiring as their brethren to the South.

I might fear a town full of goofy loons like these guys more than I would fear the more serious KKKillers you read about. If there have to be KKKillers in town, I want them to at least seem a bit ashamed of their actions, not to be so sure of their local strength that they can ride the damned ferris wheel in full murderer regalia.
posted by pracowity at 7:24 AM on February 16, 2007

Nice title, spock. I actually find the image of the hooded goons sitting three-abreast, staring at the camera, more than a little creepy.
posted by squirrel at 7:36 AM on February 16, 2007

Any pictures of them bowling?
posted by trondant at 7:54 AM on February 16, 2007

Aw, ain't that cute.

Back in Kukamonga, we call 'em Klukies.
posted by breezeway at 8:29 AM on February 16, 2007

The story I always remember at CU was George Norlin refusing the Klan government's order to fire all Catholic and Jewish professors. As a result, the Legislature effectively cut the university's budget to the bare minimum mandated. Norlin rounded up private donations to keep the university afloat.
posted by dw at 8:33 AM on February 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

And also, Klan quilters in Washington.
posted by dw at 8:36 AM on February 16, 2007

Keep in mind there have been three major periods of the KKK, with only tenuous connections between them. Reconstruction, of course, and the Civil Rights Movement era. But the middle period saw the Klan organizing openly as a fraternal society across much of the country, centering its hatred -- outside the South and Jim Crow, anyway -- on immigrants, and by extension Catholics.

A Hundred Years of Terror (commissioned by the Southern Poverty Law Center):

In the 1890's an agrarian Populist movement tried to build a coalition of blacks and poor whites against the mill owners, large landholders and conservative elite of the Old South. The answer of the aristocracy was the old cry of white supremacy combined with the manipulation of black votes, and the Populists were substantially turned back in every Deep South state except Georgia and North Carolina. The result was a feeling across the South shared by both aristocracy and many poor whites that blacks had to be frozen out of their society.

Thus the 1890's marked the beginning of the Deep South's most divisive attempts to keep blacks politically, socially and economically powerless. Most segregation laws date from that period. It was also the beginning of a series of lynching of blacks by white mobs. The combination of legalized racism and the constant threat of violence eventually led to a major black migration to Northern cities.

William J. Simmons, a Spanish American War veteran-turned preacher-turned salesman, was a compulsive joiner, holding memberships in maybe a dozen different societies and two churches. But he had always dreamed of starting his own fraternal group and in the fall of 1915 he put his plans into action.

On Thanksgiving Eve, Simmons herded 15 fellow fraternalists onto a hired bus and drove them from Atlanta to nearby Stone Mountain. There, before a cross of pine boards, Simmons lit a match and the Ku Klux Klan of the 20th century was born.

But although Simmons adopted the titles and regalia of the original version, his new creation had little similarity at first to the Reconstruction Klan, which had officially ended in 1869. Simmons' Klan was not unlike the dozens of benevolent societies then populating America. There is little doubt that Simmons' ultimate purpose in forming the group was to make money. But growth at first was slow, even after America entered World War I in 1917 and the Klan had a real "purpose"-- that of defending the country from aliens, idlers and strike leaders.

Then, in 1920, Simmons met Edward Young Clarke and Elizabeth Tyler, two publicists who had formed a business in Atlanta. With the Klan's membership at only a few thousand, Simmons signed a contract with Clarke and Tyler giving them 80 percent of the profits from the dues of the new members Simmons so eagerly sought. The promoters used an aggressive new sales pitch--the Klan would be rabidly pro America, which to them meant rabidly anti-black, anti-Jewish and most importantly, anti-Catholic.

Canon City was clearly part and parcel of this era of the movement. Certainly the Klan could never have organized so openly in, say, Chicago. But in remote Colorado they could walk around as if they owned the place, because they largely did.
posted by dhartung at 8:40 AM on February 16, 2007

I'm sorry, but the spectacle of a bunch of racist fucks enjoying a little amusement park ride in public is way scarier to me than some clandestine bonfire lit ceremony. Come on kids, enjoy the KKK fun karnival! Three tickets buys you a ride on our ferris wheel!
posted by Nelson at 8:45 AM on February 16, 2007

Getting serious for a minute: Unfortunately because of the immigration issues the membership of hate groups is on the rise
posted by Webbster at 9:05 AM on February 16, 2007

That photo was part of my first comment on the blue! Yeah it is my home town and it has not changed much, these days the locals are upset by Christo and Jean Claude who are going to drape fabric over the river west of town.Rags over the River is the moniker of the anti Christo group.
posted by hortense at 9:23 AM on February 16, 2007

I've been to Canon City many times: great rock climbing near there, only a bit more than an hour from my house.

The folks were reasonably nice, but then again, I'm white. Very aware of strangers. I made a wrong turn there once, and some guy actually came out to my car from his house, and asked me where I was going (city folk from Denver had no business going down this road, you see). He was nice about it, and I was lost, and he set me back on the right track, but it was creepy.

What really makes me laugh: it's pronounced CaƱon City. (canyon, not canon). But that enya wouldn't do for decent, KKK white folks, now would it? So pronounce it correctly, but don't put the fucking tilde on the n, by golly.
posted by teece at 9:32 AM on February 16, 2007

spock: "Somehow the Canon City, Colorado branch of the KKK was not quite as fear-inspiring as their brethren to the South."

Maybe not, but they were extremely powerful and influential. I haven't read that second link yet (I'm looking forward to it) but it's not often mentioned that the KKK ran Colorado politics for decades in the early 1900s. I believe their influence can still be felt today-- not in overt racism, since the KKK have long been deposed, and since there are very few out-and-out racists in Colorado; but in the confusion and awkwardness that come from growing up in a state with very little cultural diversity and even less thought about what diversity means.
posted by koeselitz at 9:47 AM on February 16, 2007

The KKK took my baby's admission ticket away.

...Yeah, that's all I got.
posted by Target Practice at 10:02 AM on February 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Those big pointy hats let all the short people get on.

posted by cardamine at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2007

You know when the KKK was cool? That one scene in Oh Brother Where Art Tho when they are doing a synchronized dance to Ralph Stanley's O Death.

And the Chappelle bit about the blind black klansman. That was pretty good too.

Those are the only times.

Hate groups suck. The KKK particularly so, in that, in addition to being bigoted assholes, they are also cowards. They operate through fear and intimidation, yet they hide their faces for fear of reprisal.

And if there is one thing I hate more than a racist, it's one who acts on his racist impulses from behind a sheet to ensure his anonymity.

Cowards, the lot of 'em.
posted by quin at 1:23 PM on February 16, 2007

...since there are very few out-and-out racists in Colorado


Also, on a possibly unrelated note -- or perhaps related -- Canon City is essentially also home to the Unabomber, Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui, and super racist Matthew F. Hale, among others. They are all guests at nearby ADX Florence, also known as Supermax.
posted by william_boot at 1:25 PM on February 16, 2007

Canyon City is home to several prisons in the area, supermax included.
It's still a very racist hick town.
posted by Balisong at 1:55 PM on February 16, 2007

It is also home to a branch of one of the most abusive "troubled teen" programs I cover in my expose of that industry, Help at Any Cost.

Royal Gorge Academy [sic] is headed by a guy named Randall Hinton, who admitted on videotape that when he worked at an affiliated program in Jamaica, he used pepper spray repeatedly to discipline kids. Recently, he was arrested for physically assaulting a boy and forcing a girl with her period to lie still on the floor without access to sanitary materials for hours.

"Lying on your face" is a punishment commonly used at the Jamaica program, which is called Tranquility Bay.

(I am always interested in hearing from people with local knowledge about these programs.)
posted by Maias at 2:52 PM on February 16, 2007

Balisong: "It's still a very racist hick town."

evidence (anecdotal, if you wish) please
posted by koeselitz at 2:54 PM on February 16, 2007

Ludlow Colorado is about 90 miles as the crow flys.Rockafeller
owned Colo. Fuel and Iron, CF&I used coal from coal fields in the Canon city area,Local Protestant Baptist preachers were the power behind the kkk, incidently John D.was fervent Calvinist Baptist. Ultimatly the local kkk was fighting JDR's labor battles.
posted by hortense at 5:17 PM on February 16, 2007

Also see: this photo of a black cop protecting a worried-looking KKK member from protesters.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 12:50 AM on February 17, 2007

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