AUSTIN (KXAN) — Although monitors say several hate groups are active in Central Texas, the groups themselves are not openly tied to crime or violence.
Larry Jackson was living in Austin in 1983, when the Ku Klux Klan marched at the State Capitol. Jackson had already been active for years in the community working on civil rights issues.
“I was just there protesting,” said Larry Jackson who moved to Austin in 19
“Austin just in the 80s would not ever tolerate that kind of thinking,” Jackson said. “Austin really was a truly progressive city.”
In 1983, the Klan was heavily outnumbered. Police and protesters went to downtown Austin. National media reports at the time said members of the anti-Klan crowd shouted and threw rocks. Twelve people were injured and officers arrested several people.
“In 1983 in Austin, Travis County, the Klan was and still is a joke,” said Jackson. “I mean a serious joke because it is a racist organization, but, you know, no one could openly profess to actually be a Klansman around here and hope to, you know, survive economically or socially.”
Jackson spoke with us briefly about modern hate groups. He recognizes that some people still harbor hateful beliefs to this day.
The Texas Department of Public Safety looked at the threats to the state in a report released during last legislative session. The report says “antigovernment or racial extremist groups have had significant footholds” in Texas. It says groups like the KKK usually don’t openly support crime and they have not been specifically linked with any recent attacks.
However, it points to several recent incidents when it says someone acts on radical anti-government ideas listing the 2010 attack on the Austin office building housing an IRS office as an example. Still, the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization monitoring hate groups, is focusing more on their words than possible actions.
“Our chief concern these days is less what a tiny little Klan group itself might do and more what the propaganda that emanates from these groups does once it enters the political mainstream,” said Mark Potok with the SPLC.
Jackson has a similar view. These days, he concerns himself with how local policies are now affecting Austin communities, rather than focusing on hate groups that may be quietly operating in Central Texas.