Since I first began documenting the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist scene I’ve noticed significant changes over the years. As of late, the media and a small handful of Klan organizations have been capitalizing off one another – a particular group gets its message out and the media gets its sensationalism. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that the majority of the work out there (documentaries, articles and images) is essentially the same thing in a different wrapper. I’ve witnessed several documentary networks I grew up respecting putting out work that I can only refer to as the superficial life of the Klan-dashian’s. It’s insulting to me as a serious documentarian, it’s nothing more than irresponsible parachute journalism in my opinion. Any access I’ve been afforded came from me being honest and wearing my personality on my sleeve.
The most noticeable transformations took place between the years 2009 to 2015; private gatherings that used to attract sizable crowds were becoming less common. Traditional old school groups were disbanding or going off the grid. New splinter groups started to pop up, including a wave of cyber Klans that existed solely on the Internet. Social Media was becoming widely accepted as an effective means for otherwise private individuals to speak out and network with other like-minded individuals within the movement. During this time, some groups weren’t achieving the membership numbers that they were previously accustomed to, so they started allowing anyone who would march alongside of them to join.
It was rare to see a Swastika at a traditional Klan event prior to this, but it was slowly becoming a common sight.
In the midst of all this, was the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012, followed by an increase of questionable police shootings involving black suspects, which eventually led to the “black lives matter” movement. In 2015 pressure to remove a confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State Capital building brought southern heritage organizations to the scene, soon after confederate statues were being taken down across the nation.
This was the last element needed to unite the southern heritage organizations to groups like the Ku Klux Klan… new alliances, previously unimaginable were forged between the Klan, white nationalists, southern heritage organizations and the intellectual/suit wearing Alt-Right.