Residents of one small Missouri town Sunday vocally opposed members of the Ku Klux Klan who were trying to recruit new members. Members of the Ku Klux Klan spent part of Sunday trying to recruit in the quiet Missouri town of St. Genevieve, raising concern that the group’s presence in the region is growing, according to KFVS. St. Genevieve is located south of St. Louis (about halfway between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau), near the Mississippi River border between Missouri and Illinois.
KKK members were handing out flyers as local residents left after church services. Local residents had an altercation with the recruiters, telling them to leave the town. The KKK members reiterated that they were within their First Amendment rights to recruit and share their beliefs publicly but a number of local residents were vocal in their opposition of the group and the recruitment efforts. A local resident took video of the incidents and posted it on YouTube (Warning: Offensive language).
The KKK group (True Invisible Empire Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) that was recruiting is based in Potosi, Mo., about 50 miles from St. Genevieve. According to report from KFVS-12 out of Cape Girardeau, the faction has plans to do more recruiting in the Midwest and even across the nation.
The Midwest is no stranger to KKK activity and rallies. In December of 2000, a Klan rally was held in northern Illinois in Skokie. In April 1995, a rally was held on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse in Benton, Ill. — a southern town less than 100 miles from the recruitment efforts in St. Genevieve. In February of this year, a racially motivated cross burning occurred in Mt. Vernon, Ill., just north of Benton, but investigators were never able to determine who was responsible for the incident. The cross was burned on the lawn of a family in which a black man was married to a white woman.
The KKK is best known as a white supremacist and separatist group that calls itself Christian and patriotic. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists 26 hate groups in Missouri; the Potosi group is on that list. Other nearby Missouri groups on the listing include a neo-Confederate group in West Plains and a “Christian identity” group in Wappapello. A KKK group is also listed in southern Illinois in Harrisburg.