Locals back Klan's 'invisble empire'

By John Masanauskas, June, 26 A.C. (1999 A.D.)

The Ku Klux Klan has dozens of supporters in Victoria and is recruiting strongly, a sympathiser of the racist group said yesterday.

Patrick O'Sullivan said he socialised with Klan members and had seen them wearing the traditional white hoods and robes.

"It's an invisible empire in its own way", he said. "They could be anywhere, they could even be your next-door neighbour."

Mr O'Sullivan declined to name Klan members, but produced a Victorian branch business card with an Ascot Vale post office box address.

The disclosure that the Klan is establishing "Klaverns" in Australia was widely condemned by political leaders, Aboriginal groups and ethnic communities.

Sydney Klan leader Peter Coleman said branches had been set up in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

And an Imperial Wizard of the Klan in the United States said he would be visiting Australia.

Mr O'Sullivan, 27, said he supported the Klan because it is pro-white.

He said he was a member of a like-minded group called the World Church of the Creator, set up in the US in 1973.

The former member of the far-Right National Action said his group had more than 100 supporters in Victoria.

Mr Coleman, who is referred to as Exalted Cyclops, was expelled from the One Nation party, but said he still supported its general principles.

He also supported the extremist Australian Nationalist Movement, whose leaders were jailed for firebombing Asian restaurants in Perth, during the 1980's.

Mr Coleman said Jews were power-hungry, Aborigines should "get on with life", and homosexuals were abnormal.

But he said he couldn't understand why Klan branches in Australia was such a big issue.

"We're just a private club, just like the Lions club or any other group," he said.

But Prime Minister John Howard said the Klan was a repulsive and racist organisation which no decent Australian would support.

One Nation executive director David Etteridge called for the group to be banned, but ATSIC chairman Gatjil Djerrkura said One Nation should take some responsibility for the Klan's appearance.

"Aboriginal leaders have been warning ever since the inception of One Nation that its policies would be a rallying call for racists," he said.

Director of the Jewish community's B'Nai Brith Anti-Defamation Commission Danny Ben-Moshe called for the national racial vilification laws to be toughened and for regulation of Internet hate sites.

"These guys can espouse their racist rhetoric and nothing can be done," he said.

Victorian Multicultural Commission chairman Stefan Romaniw said the Klan "is something we don't need and we don't want in Victoria".

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