William Walters seemed like a typical civic-minded resident of Tacony in Northeast Philadelphia. He'd served as a Republican committeeman for a decade and had been on the neighborhood watch for five years. Until neighbors found out about his enthusiasm for this other organization.
Walters, it turns out, has also been an active member of the Ku Klux Klan for more than three decades. Not just an active member, but a Grand Dragon of the "East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire," according to Philadelphia magazine:
"We received information that Bill had been distributing flyers in the neighborhood trying to recruit new members," says town watch president Joe Nicoletti of the excommunication, adding that no one on the town watch had a clue about their neighbor's association with the Klan until the flyers turned up. "And part of our bylaws state that members must promote harmony in the neighborhood, and we all know that harmony is not what the KKK is about."
...Walters doesn't get what all of the fuss is about.
He claims that he's being persecuted for his religious beliefs. "We are a conservative Christian group," he says. "My rights were infringed upon. I can't believe in what I want to? This has infringed on my First Amendment rights. It's reverse discrimination."
Walters claims not to be a hatemonger, though the magazine found that his Facebook page tells a different story. In his own defense, he gave a reporter the kind of on-the-nose quote a reporter only expects to get maybe once, twice in a lifetime:
"I know we have a bad name, but it's not that way no more," he insists. "When was the last time a black or Hispanic got hung on a tree?"
He added "that his next step might be to start a town watch of his own with KKK members":
"We're basically the same thing as the town watch," says Walters. "We want to try to get rid of the trash coming in."
The GOP and the town watch both ousted Walters with a quickness, and he laments that he couldn't even get the ACLU to help him. Fellow klansmen apparently gathered at the local library last week in a show of solidarity with Walters, but they left after "a large group of people showed up to laugh at and yell at them," Philly mag says.
Walters' troubles come just two months after another KKK branch got in hot water in Central Pennsylvania for starting a 24-hour "Klanline," another neighborhood watch of sorts—a posse, even—for residents reporting crimes. The group distributed flyers with an attempt at a comforting message: "You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!"