Photo from Paul Walsh
I'm sure hundreds of people come into this exact problem roughly once every day, but logging into Twitter last week to find a direct message from the leader of the Ku Klux Klan was a new one for me. A kind of awkward but mostly hilarious new one, in that the message was from Bradley Jenkins – the Grand Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of America (UKA) – who told me that Thomas Robb, the guy I spoke to that time a woman set herself on fire and blamed it on the KKK, was the leader of a "fake Klan" and claimed I should speak to him, the leader of the "true Klan".
The UKA is a faction of the Klan that has historically been associated with extreme acts of violence, like a number of murders throughout the 60s and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, which killed four young girls. All the online literature I could find about the UKA (apart from on its own website) referred to the organisation in the past tense, with many stating that it had effectively disbanded after the death of its leader, Robert Shelton, in 2003. I called Bradley to see just how he could be the leader of a defunct organisation and why his gang were more real than Thomas Robb's gang.
VICE: Hi Bradley. What did you mean when you said I'd spoken to a “fake Klan”?
Bradley Jenkins: We call these other Klans "pop-up Klans". Our government made it very easy for people to call themselves Klans by splitting all the Klans up. The United Klans of America are the true Klan – we have a history, we have a charter, we're not a hate organisation; we're just a fraternal white organisation.
And you consider Thomas Robb’s Knights of the KKK to be a pop-up Klan?
Oh, I won't even tell you what I think of that man. He used to be a good Klansman, but look at the difference between his website and ours: he's begging for money on every page. Sure, it takes money to operate, but begging for £20 to £30 a month from people who are losing their jobs just isn't right.
So you don’t charge a membership fee. Is that the only difference between you and the Knights of the KKK?
That’s not the only difference. Robb calls us guys – who wear hoods and robes – re-enactors. We’re not re-enactors. We are the true deal. We don’t burn a cross, we light a cross. It’s a call to arms; it’s illuminating the light of Jesus Christ. We’re the originals, we’ve got the history.
Thomas Robb told me he believes we're witnessing the genocide of the white race. Do you believe him?
You can’t say that this is going to be a 100 percent genocide of the Aryan race. The real view of the UKA is that we’re tired of surviving and we'd rather just live. We want to lead our lives without being looked down on as racist scum. We’re proud to be white, we’re proud of the American people. We don’t consider ourselves racist at all. We are American infidels.
When you say infidel, you mean that a Muslim would consider you an infidel?
The best way to define infidel is to let every nation know that they have to worry about the Ku Klux Klan if they're thinking of harming our country. We're not the Klan of the past. We consider these pop-up Klans to be nigger-hating rednecks and we're not that at all. We're educated men who are sick and tired of our country getting crapped on.
Do you have to be a Christian to be in the UKA?
Our members' personal beliefs are up to them. There are three major Aryan beliefs: Christianity, Odinism and the Creators, who are kind of like atheists.
Aren’t all those religions linked by the notion of white supremacy?
I don’t like the term white supremacy. I’ve heard "white power" enough to make me throw up. You want white power? We’ve had white power since the pilgrims landed, so you need to shut up about white power. I don’t like our president, but you know what? He’s our president. I don’t care what colour he is.
So do you have a certain respect for Obama, then?
I'm going to say it like this, and I swear I'm coming to England if you write it any different, because this is a touchy subject and you know it is. I respect him for having the cojones to stand up as the very first black man and take that position, because the country was in turmoil when he took over. But do I think he's a communist? Oh yeah – I think he's a commie bastard, 150 percent.
I can't help but find it odd when you say you don't have a problem with people of colour, because that seems to oppose all those original Klan messages.
The Klan was actually founded to protect southern families from all the freed slaves who were raping and killing. It’s been bastardised over the years to fulfil certain people's need for power, but it isn’t about power – there isn’t any power in this. If anyone thinks the Ku Klux Klan has power, they’re retarded.
So you don’t see the UKA as a hate organisation?
Putting on public rallies with the robes and the hoods and screaming and hollering doesn't accomplish anything. Let me tell you what I hate: I hate that my country is going down the tubes and that Europe is going down the tubes. I hate that we have people who are totally blind to the Islamisation of our world.
The UKA has been linked with some very serious incidents in the past, though?
That was a different time and it's something you can't change. But if you look at other Klan organisations, they have scum in their ranks because they don't do background checks. It's all about quantity to them, whereas United Klans of America is concerned with quality. I'm a military veteran and an ex-cop. In fact, child molesters and immigration are two of our biggest issues. The Klan leadership figures out ways to inform communities about those issues without telling them it's coming from the Klan. We don't really want them knowing it's coming from the Klan, actually. The Klan is a means to an end.
So how does it help to be a member of the Klan if you don't want anyone knowing it's you guys doing all this work?
It helps because, as of 2013, the UKA will be nationally known. We have things in place that will inform the misinformed. We’re going to put an end to all the people who have been spending money to call themselves Klansmen.
And how are you going to do that?
As of January 1st, 2013, every news agency we can find will get a press release about what we’re not going to stand for anymore. We will not let these people go out and make us look like idiots.
So your campaign is to call out these fake Klans and claim the UKA are the true Klan?
It will be done in a Klannish manner. We're not going to call out individual Klans because that's not the Klannish way. I'll tell you what – if I have a problem with an individual Klan, they better hope I don't walk up on them.
Are you suggesting that you'd be violent towards other Klans?
Being Klannish does not mean being violent. We are weeding out the people who only joined the Ku Klux Klan to participate in violence. If that’s what they want, they have no place here. We are a family organisation.
So you want to use the stigma surrounding the UKA name to further your political ideas?
Yes, we're using that stigma, but we want to override the negatives with positives. We can’t just come right out. For every negative act that these pop-up Klans carry out, we need to follow up with four to five positives. We’re not racist; we’re pro-white and pro-America.
If you're not racist, why not start a new organisation than become the leader of one with a long history of racism?
Because there has to be someone who stands up and establishes what we're about. Myself and the four other Imperial wizards have come to the conclusion that 2013 is the time for that to happen. It will be the year that people realise the Klan is not this huge hate organisation.
Okay, mate. I guess we'll find out next year. Thanks, Bradley.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @matthewfrancey