The announcement of the June 18 American Freedom Tour in Southaven featuring Donald Trump probably caused as much anxiety in the Black community of DeSoto County as the pro-KKK flyers thrown onto Black churchyards and family porches only a few months before.
Many Black people in Mississippi’s third largest county had become aware of a “clear and present danger” growing in their midst at least three months before retired Judge J. Michael Luttig spoke about it in his testimony before the Select Committee on the January 6 attack last Thursday.
The flyers contained contact information for joining the Klan in 14 different states, although the Atlanta-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that keeps track of hate groups in this country, says the white supremacists who call themselves the Old Glory Knights are most likely exaggerating both their membership numbers and their locations.
Some Black community leaders, however, said they preferred to downplay the Klan flyers in DeSoto County to avoid drawing public attention to the white nationalist group.
The testimony of retired Judge J. Michael Luttig before the Select Committee might become the landmark that predicted the collapse of American government, if things don’t take a turn for the better.
“Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy,” Luttig warned the nation through his testimony on Thursday, June 16.
“That’s not because of what happened on January 6,” Luttig continued. “It’s because, to this very day, the former president and his allies and supporters pledge that in [the] presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.”
Community activist Kelly Jacobs of Hernando said she got “goosebumps” as she listened to Judge Michael Luttig’s testimony before the Select Committee on the June 6 insurrection and believed each word spoken by him. The MAGA Republicans, Trump’s devoted followers, are still carrying out his orders, she said.
“The allies of a sore loser continue to brainwash gullible people into accepting lynching, violence, and the possible lawless takeover of our government,” she said.
Jacobs is a frontline Democratic activist determined to put an end to the lawlessness Trump’s Republicans insurrectionists displayed on Jan. 6, 2021.
The Klan flyers began appearing on the steps of Black churches and in the yards of dozens of Black families across DeSoto County a few months after the American Freedom Tour was announced for Southaven in the fall of 2021.
“We did have a flyer that came from the Klan, and we found it on the street out there in front of the church,” said Peggy Dobbins, 70, a member of Enon Springs M.B. Church.
“This happened around March 20,” she said. “It was on the news. They had interviewed some of the individuals who had them thrown in their yards. They reported that there were several other churches that had the flyers thrown in their yards.”
The same flyers kept popping up through early June at Black targets across DeSoto County, including Brown Missionary Baptist Church, whose senior pastor Dr. Bartholomew Orr, contacted the local authorities.
“I’m familiar with only one incident that made the news,” said Pastor Orr. “I have not been privy to this rise of the Klan activity. So, I cannot speak to that. Our law enforcement here has given us their commitment to make sure that our community is safe, and they are doing everything possible to keep us safe on all fronts. We are grateful for what they are doing, in encouraging the community as always, to always be vigilant.”
Kelly Jacobs, who is white, says she is troubled by the racial tension that she often sees brewing in her neighborhood.
“I personally have had a run-in with the Klan here in Hernando because I was the sponsor of Initiative 48 back in 2014, asking the state to regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco,” said Jacobs. “Young men came to visit me twice. The second time, they left their calling card and warned me to stop what I was doing. So, I took a picture of their license plate and turned it in to the police department, and they haven’t bothered me since. I am white and I expect that. I expect the police to take care of this stuff. That’s how I was raised. I don’t understand receiving a threat from a hate group that is old and is noted for terrorizing people. And we know it has been staffed primarily with police.
“There was a group, perhaps not the Klan, but white supremacists, who lived just around the corner from me. They had their special handshakes, and they decorated the outside of their house, with all that code stuff, right out in the open. Newspapers in Mississippi haven’t been running stories about Klan activity in DeSoto, although the surrounding states have,” she said.
State Senator Robert Jackson of Marks, whose district now includes parts of DeSoto County, said he has alerted the FBI about the threat felt by a large number of Black and other minorities in the community.
“My understanding is that the FBI has already begun its investigation,” Jackson said.
Jackson says that he also feels that Trump and his followers pose an obvious threat to the peace and tranquility of DeSoto County just as they have been accused of for the country as a whole.
“I would agree that Trump and his followers are a clear and present danger to the government of the United States,” Jackson said. “From all that I’ve heard from the people who have testified, I would agree with the judge. We can only hope that the Department of Justice is doing their due diligence in investigating the former president and everybody who was in contact with him and made the January 6 thing happen.”
Jackson praised chairman Bennie Thompson and his bi-partisan committee for “an excellent job connecting the dots and identifying the people who were a party” to the insurrection.
“I can only hope that the DOJ will do their job,” he added.
Thompson’s committee revealed in its most recent hearing that Trump had hustled his gullible followers out of more than $255 million during the first eight weeks after the 2020 elections ended in failure for him.
Trump’s American Freedom Tour appearance on June 18 in Southaven was his second appearance in as many days in this never-ending, money-making scheme for some Republicans with checkered backgrounds. On June 17, Trump was one of the many speakers at Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering in Nashville. Reed, former chair of the long-discredited Christian Coalition, was accused of using his organization to defraud American Indian tribes out of millions of dollars while he was in league with convicted felon Jack Abramoff.
Tickets to the Southaven gathering cost from $45 to $4,000 (yes, $4,000) each. The amount of money paid Trump and the long list of right-wing conservatives who shared the stage with him during the all-day event remains undisclosed.
Among Trump’s fawning acolytes were Gov. Tate Reeves; the self-hating Black female Candace Owens, reportedly nine-months pregnant with her second child; Mike Pompeo; Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle; and convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza.
Trump is scheduled to appear in a final run of the current political tour in North Carolina in coming weeks, one of the schedules of events showed.