The KKK Is Still Not Officially Recognized As A Domestic Terrorist Organization

After nearly 200 years of organizing and inflicting constant murder and terror, there is finally a petition circulating to recognize the KKK as a domestic terrorist organization, the success of which would make the eradication of the Ku Klux Klan from the United States a Homeland Security priority. Considering the ongoing genocide inflicted by the KKK, they should have been eradicated decades ago and immediately placed under the umbrella of domestic terrorists. That is, if the word “terrorism” was applied to white people in the U.S.

The word “terrorism” as we know it today was derived from the French word “terrorisme,” which referred to the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution when the Jacobin Party mass executed “enemies of the revolution” while instating the leadership of Maximilian Robespierre. Untethered by blatant opposition or commitment to government, terrorism is currently defined by the Oxford Dictionary as, “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

Given the definition of terrorism as an unlawful use of violence and intimidation, one of the ways the KKK has escaped the label of terrorism is by infiltrating and enforcing the concept of “lawfulness” itself. During the Civil Rights Movement, members of the KKK made a plan to purposefully infiltrate law enforcement, because it’s easy to act as if the law doesn’t apply to you if you are the law.

On July 7, a 22-year-old black man, London Jermaine, was found hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park in Atlanta. The police claimed it appeared to be a suicide, but locals reported sightings of KKK posters in the same neighborhood as the man’s death. The FBI is looking into the case due to the rare nature of a hanging suicide and the potential correlation between increased KKK activity.

In 2014, a police department in Florida was outed for having KKK members as sheriffs.

The fact that the KKK still exists in the capacity it does is a larger issue that reflects both the widespread acceptance of institutionalized white supremacy and the lack of “domestic threat” by the government when the perpetrators are white and the victims are of color.

Back in 2015 when a NAACP headquarters in Colorado Springs was bombed, the FBI immediately made investigative connections with possible (and presumed) KKK involvement. In the same year, Dylann Roof, the suspected Charleston shooter who took the lives of nine innocent people when he shot up the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, was discovered to have a manifesto of white supremacist ideals that explicitly expressed allegiance and solidarity with the KKK.

Our government knows about the existence of the KKK and is aware of the names and general locations of some of the former leadership, but even so, they have yet to legally name it a domestic terrorist group that poses an implicit threat to American safety. Is this because when we talk about “American safety,” there is an unspoken presumption of whiteness. Or is it because of the successful decades of KKK infiltration into law enforcement, thus blurring the line between terrorist and authority? Sadly, it’s a combination.

While the concept of signing a petition feels flimsy in the face of such a legacy of terrorism and genocide, the widespread move to force accountability from our government in regards to the ongoing violence against black people (and PoC across the board) is desperately needed. If we don’t shut up and we keep demanding, maybe we can get our government to recognize and eradicate the KKK once and for all.