To many, maybe most, the Ku Klux Klan of today is a joke. Even in Southern states, the once frightening image of a secret society dedicated solely to the repression of non-Whites has been replaced with that of a low-brainpower redneck looking for a club to join.
“Maybe I’m ignorant, but I didn’t realize that they still met and organized and did that kind of thing,” said Michele Lange, a church volunteer.
So, it came as a surprise to Fruitland Park, Florida (motto: The Friendly City) residents that their police department had been infiltrated by the KKK.
Ann Hunnewell and her central Florida police officer husband knelt in the living room of a fellow officer’s home, with pillow cases as makeshift hoods over their heads. A few words were spoken and they, along with a half-dozen others, were initiated into the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, she says.
Last week, that five-year-old initiation ceremony stunned residents of the small town of Fruitland Park, who found out an investigative report linked two city officers with the secret hate society that once was violently active in the area. Ann Hunnewell’s ex-husband,George Hunnewell, was fired, and deputy chief David Borst resigned from the 13-member Fruitland Park Police Department. Borst has denied being a member.
James Elkins, a third officer who Ann Hunnewell says recruited her and her husband, resigned in 2010 after his Klan ties became public.
Even stranger is that Fruitland Park, long past its heyday as a citrus producer, is now basically a bedroom community for people working in Orlando and is nothing like it was 60 years ago when Black men were killed for supposedly looking at White women (literally, the Chief of Police shot 4 Black men dead back in the 1950s.
Fruitland Park’s Chief of Police Terry Isaacs claims that he’s tried to make changes since taking over the 13 officer department.
Isaacs said three years ago, he inherited a police department of 13 fulltime officers and five part-time officers — none of them black — that had a “lackadaisical culture.”
“I’ve taken great steps to overcome that. I’ve brought in diversity training for the officers and laid down orders that will get you fired,” Isaacs said.
George Hunnewell, the officer fired for being a clansmen, was reprimanded five times just last year for writing up reports incorrectly and being late. Lazy, lazy clansmen, can’t even be bothered to make hoods instead of using pillow cases.