Ku Klux Klan: Exploiting Nativism and Xenophobia

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The Klan was very influential in Williamson County, in November 1922 seventeen men walked in the First Christian Church on Sunday morning in full Klan regalia, hoods up and everything. But what they didn’t know was this wasn’t going to be the last time these men would wreak havoc on their day to day lives. The Klan had a severe prejudice for immigrants and took up residence in small towns in southern Illinois. Williamson County was the perfect place for them. They led residents to believe that they were respectable and wholesome. One of their key quotes was they wanted people to think they were just trying to be “100% American” of which I will inform you how they are nothing but the opposite. When the Klan invaded Herrin they were there to supposedly stop the illegal acts of alcohol being produced and even sent in Kleagle’s to scout the area to see if it would be a good place for the Klan to be. The Protestant church was the perfect alliance for them to gain popularity and get members to join their Klan. And that is exactly what they did, ministers were under their belt and supported them at any cost. Bootlegging was dominating southern Illinois in 1923, and Glen Young played a huge part in the Klan’s force. Young was clearly unhappy with what the law enforcement was doing to stop bootlegging and took it upon himself to “clean up” Williamson county. The Sheriff at the time, Galligan, detested Young. Raids were started by the deputized “officers” who really were Klan members in Marion, Murphysboro, Herrin and Carbondale. They made several arrests which totaled up to 256 in the matter of two days! But in March of 1923 the Grand Jury of Williamson County found that the raids were unfair, the Klan used excessive force, beating people and imprisoned them secretly. After the raids in December of 1923 Wallace Bandy, a Klansman, was picked up on a warrant. This started a riot at the Herrin Hospital that caused several injuries and even...
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