Bradley C. Bower/AP

Murder in Louisiana Recalls KKK’s Disturbing History

November 14, 2008 07:57 AM
by Josh Katz
The killing of a woman, allegedly by the KKK in Louisiana, raises questions about the group's status in the state and throughout America.

KKK Murder in Louisiana

Cynthia Lynch, 43, of Tulsa, Okla., learned of a Ku Klux Klan event for the Dixie Brotherhood group over the Internet. On Sunday, Nov. 8, she was participating in an initiation ceremony for the group at a campsite near Sun, La., about 60 miles from New Orleans, when she engaged in a struggle with the leader, Raymond “Chuck” Foster, 44, according to officials. Foster allegedly shot Lynch in the head after she asked to leave the campsite. Group members then allegedly attempted to hide the killing by burning her belongings and dumping her body in brush by the road.

Foster’s son and another Klansmen then traveled to a nearby supermarket and asked “how they could remove bloodstains from their clothes,” according to The Guardian. An employee alerted the authorities, who subsequently arrested five group members. “The IQ level of this group is not impressive, to be kind,” Sheriff Jack Strain told a news conference, adding, “I can’t imagine anyone feeling endangered or at risk by any one of these kooks.”

Foster is accused of murder and seven other people—five men and two women ranging from 20 to 30 years old—face obstruction of justice charges.

“So far, we have learned that they were a small group, but they were fairly organized,” Fred Oswold, chief of criminal investigations for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said, CNN reports.

Small though the Dixie Brotherhood may be, the activities of the hate group have revived old fears about the KKK.

“History was made this month,” Louisiana resident Hattie Dillon said, referring to the election of Barack Obama, the Associated Press reports. “Then our eyes opened again.”

Background: KKK in Louisiana, United States

There are still KKK factions in Louisiana, as the incident indicates, although their numbers are small. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center said that seven Klan chapters of “various stripes” exist in the state, the AP writes. He also claims that Klan membership has risen recently, due in part to the swell of illegal immigration, but the groups are poorly organized in Louisiana and throughout the United states. There are 34 KKK factions under different names, with 155 chapters functioning nationwide consisting of approximately 6,000 members, according to Potok.
“Really, it’s a pathetic collection of losers and thugs,” Potok said. “Even across the radical right most people look down their nose at the Klan these days.”

Washington Parish, the area where the crime took place, has a history of violence stemming from desegregation. For example, in an unsolved crime, the first black sheriff’s deputy of the parish, Oneal Moore, was killed in 1965. 

“In 1965, the Klan ran Bogalusa, and so it’s not at all surprising to see the legacy of that organization re-emerge in the form of a new generation of Klan advocates,” said Lance Hill, executive director of Tulane University’s Southern Institute for Education and Research, the AP writes.

Former Klan leader David Duke ran a close race against incumbent Edwin Edwards for the position of Louisiana governor in the 1990s. Edwards, despite being marred by scandal, eked out a victory.

Racist hate crime has hit Louisiana more recently as well. “20,000 marched in September 2007 in the north Louisiana town of Jena in defense of six black teenagers accused of attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate,” according to the AP.

Related Topic: Obama assassination plot

The murder comes less than a month after federal authorities foiled a plot by young neo-Nazi skinheads to kill 102 black students and Barack Obama. Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schesselmann, 18, allegedly planned to shoot 88 black students, decapitate 14 others, and then assassinate the then presidential candidate.

According to court documents, “Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt. … Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt.”

Reference: The Ku Klux Klan


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