Friday, August 28, 2009

The Horse’s Mouth

by Sheryl McCollum

I sat with the ex-Imperial Wizard of the KKK this week. The purpose of this meeting was to gain insight on this hate group in order to best work on an existing case.

When you sit two feet from a man who has physically harmed others, burned down a church, and verbally abused a race of people, a knee jerk reaction is to be repulsed and to wonder, Why aren't you in prison? Once you get past those reactions, you start to see how his knowledge can be useful.

The ex-wizard, “JC,” grew up poor in the Los Angeles projects and joined the KKK at the age of 14. A former wrestler, he now works at the FBI academy at
Quantico as a trainer, speaking out against hate groups. Throughout our encounter, “JC” was open, honest, straightforward, and very clear about the workings of the Klu Klux Klan. He explained the organization's recurring tactics, its activities, and its resurgence since the election of President Obama.

One of the things he explained to me is the way such groups view alliances. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a commonly heard phrase in such organizations. Hate groups help other hate groups, in order to destroy their enemy. There is no loyalty. Hate groups will sell weapons to other groups, if they believe the buyers can assist in furthering their cause.

Let's look at another such insider:
Joe Valachi. A mobster, he was the first to publicly acknowledge La Cosa Nostra's existence. His testimony was broadcast on radio and television and published in newspapers. Because of him, organized crime no longer had the advantage of invisibility. In his testimony before Congress in 1963, Valachi gave the names of over 300 mafioso while detailing the inner working of the mob, including its organizational structure, political ties, and crimes. At the time, then Attorney General Robert Kennedy said that Valachi’s testimony gave "meaning to much of what we know and brings the picture into sharper focus.”

Not all intelligence experts are hate-group or organized-crime family members.
Frank W. Abagnale is a con man turned FBI trainer. Who better to teach young agents about fraud, embezzlement, and forgery than a master con man? The subject of the hit movie Catch me if you Can, Abagnale is a great teacher because he has not only researched but committed these crimes. With his knowledge and experience, he can explain how to best thwart these criminals.

Others are taking the training one step further and making ex-criminals police officers. The island nation of Fiji takes hardened criminals and turns them into cops. They see this as a way to rehabilitate former criminals and to give them a way to use their knowledge to fight crime. It's also a great way to keep tabs on your usual suspects.

Maybe some of you have watched the Discovery Channel's It Takes a Thief, in which two uniquely qualified experts break into homes to show homeowners just how defenseless their houses are to pros. The two experts are reformed ex-cons who know well the art of B&E.

Please keep in mind that criminals can serve in many ways. They have knowledge and an expertise in a certain type of crime and can train or assist police in preventing, fighting, or better understanding that crime. Whether they are called confidential informants, cooperating individuals, or substantial assistance, they have expertise the average police officer lacks. Having criminals work with police is also a great way to keep an eye on them. Remember: Keep your enemies closer – so to speak.

Bottom line: If I want to know how to make a pound cake, I ask Betty Crocker. If I want to know how the Smith & Wesson .50 Magnum handles, I ask Leslie Bailey. If I want to know about the KKK, I go to the source.


Alicia said...

I really like this, it makes more sense then most people understand. Like you sa keep you enemies closer. The experiences are long lasting and great tools. Great Writing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alicia! Its important to understand even if we don't agree.

Leah said...

Several years ago I rode to the mall with my friend at lunch. She locked her keys in her car so we started looking around for someone to help us unlock the door. As I started to approach these 2 huge, thug looking black men, she grabbed my arm and said something like what are you doing, they look like burglars. Exactly, I said to her. Who else did she think was going to know how to break into a car? The old man in a wheel chair with an oxygen tank? Hardly!

Great post Sheryl!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Leah! You and I think alike sister!

Anonymous said...


I think it is very courageous for you to sit with and try to understand the minddset of the KKK. I do not know many people with that kind of morale standing. It is incredible that more people do not seek out people in this manner. I think that law enforcement has an asset in criminals who have seen the harm they have done and try to help.

GREAT post Sheryl!

FleaStiff said...

Hate group???
The Ladies KKK in Indiana was one of the most powerful political groups this country had at one time. A later member of the US Supreme Court marched in his KKK robes in a July 4th parade.
May I suggest you take a look at the photographs in the archives and see all the fine upstanding women present and proudly being photographed with their children after a dispensation of justice. You might also want to read the KKK charter too.