Ku Klux Klan

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The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a national organization known for white supremacist ideology and hate group tactics of violence and intimidation, has had several incarnations in the Pensacola area.


The Ku Klux Klan and similar clubs were formed during the Reconstruction era by Southern whites fearful of enfranchised and increasingly puissant blacks. Former mayor W. E. Anderson recalled the formation of a group in Pensacola:

A number of us men here in Pensacola, feeling that we were living over a volcano that was likely to explode at any time, formed an organization for protection in case anything happened. We formed it in this way. A few of us had a talk, and passed word around to those who we thought would approve the idea to meet on a certain night quietly—the object being in no way to attract attention. Some twenty-five or thirty of us met, and one, acting as the spokesman, outlined the purpose of our coming together. He said that is was to form some sort of organization in case of trouble with the negroes. We elected officers and took an inventory of the firearms of the members. Fortunately, there was never any use for this organization.[1]

Lochas incident[edit]

On the evening of July 8, 1921, three cars loaded with Klansmen drove up to the establishment of Greek restaurateur Chris Lochas. Three members, dressed in white ceremonial robes and helmets, entered the café and handed Lochas an envelope with a letter that read: "You are an undesirable citizen. You violate the Federal prohibition laws, the laws of decency, and you are a running sore on society. Several trains are leaving Pensacola daily. Take your choice, but don't take too much time."[2]

Pensacola Police Captain Harper was inside the café at the time, and several uniformed police officers and a crowd of witnesses stood outside, yet no one took note of the vehicles' license numbers nor made any attempt to interfere with them. The act was condemned in the next day's Pensacola News and by many prominent citizens. As a result, the Pensacola Klan's charter was suspended by William J. Simmons, Imperial Wizard of the national organization, who also published a statement in the News defending the Klan's support of "pure Americanism" and offering to help find those who threatened Lochas. The newspaper responded by challenging Simmons to give the names of all local Klan members, so that they might be called before a grand jury, but Simmons did not comply.

The Klan's charter was soon reinstated by Simmons "on assurance by the local officers that they would keep up a relentless fight to find the offenders."[3]

Escambia High mascot issue[edit]

Anti-abortion connection[edit]

The Klan has been linked to anti-abortion activism in the Pensacola area. Activist John Burt was a former Klansman. The Klan has held protests in front of abortion clinics.

After the July 29, 1994 murder of Dr. John Britton and his security escort James Barrett by Paul Hill, prominent Klan leader J. D. Alder recorded a telephone hotline message praising Hill:

Abortion is mostly a white thing. Abortion is racial suicide for the white race. … Men such as Paul Hill are heroes for eliminating baby killers and saving the lives of unborn beautiful white babies. We of the Klan would be willing to pay higher taxes to pay for tar baby abortions if it meant a whiter and brighter future for our people. … Baby killers need to know that the Klan is not asleep.[4]

Three Klan members picketed outside the Ladies Center clinic on October 1 of that year.


  1. Davis Watson. The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida.
  2. Henry P. Fry. The Modern Ku Klux Klan. Small, Maynard & Company, 1922.
  3. "Wizard in vigorous defense of Ku Klux." New York Times, October 13, 1921.
  4. Carol Mason. Killing for life: the apocalyptic narrative of pro-life politics. Cornell University Press, 2002.