In Charleston , S.C., after the church massacre there, House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Americans need to root out grass-roots hate groups in much the same way that the Ku Klux Klan was confronted decades ago.
Clyburn said he hopes suspect Dylann Roof is cooperating with police, as reported, because “I really want to know, because I really believe that we cannot understand the full import of this action until we know what motivated this young man.”
“Now, if he had some individual antisocial feelings, even racial misgivings, that’s one thing,” the congressman told CNN. “But if he is acting out of his sensitivities and sensibilities with some kind of organized antisocial group that is proliferating the Internet with all of this hate stuff, then that’s something else again, because I really believe that those people of goodwill that exist in this state and this nation have got to stop being silent, when we see so many things like this taking place.”
“I remember back in the ’70s, when I was in the governor’s office, the things we did under Governor West to penetrate and infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan to render them almost useless to everybody, including themselves. We have now stepped back from these groups. And we act as if, because we’re not doing it, then we don’t have any responsibility for it.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported last year that nearly 100 murders over the past five years have been tied to users of Stormfront, a large international web forum for white supremacists and neo-Nazis founded by former Alabama KKK leader Don Black.
After Roof killed nine people Wednesday night at the historic Emanuel AME Church, Stormfront users expressed concern that he was putting a bad face on the “white nationalist” movement. An anonymous user posted on the forum last year about attacking black churches.
“We have responsibility to each other. We have responsibility to this state and to this nation. And we see this kind of stuff taking place. We have got to speak up. We have got to stand up,” Clyburn said.
He cited Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a veteran of the civil rights movement, who “would say, we have got to get in the way and make some noise.”
“And unless people do that, speak up and speak out, the evil- thinking people will control the airwaves and they will control the activities, much of which is not good for the future of this great country,” Clyburn added.
Two branches of the KKK and four other “white nationalist” groups reportedly operate in South Carolina. It’s unknown if Roof, whose Facebook photo showed him wearing a jacket with Rhodesian and apartheid South Africa flags, was directly connected to any of these organizations.