The two live in the same mobile home community down the street from each other, west of State Road 441 in unincorporated Palm Beach County. They said they are not connected with one another.
One of them, who identified himself to WPLG News Channel 10 as “Mr. Hayes,” said if other ethnic groups can mark their religion or ethnicity with signs, so can he.
“As many people know, the white families are producing less children because the father and mother work and you have interracial marriages and gay marriages, so there are less and less white children being born every day – and we’re against that,” he told the reporter. Hayes has a noose hanging in front of his yard but said he doesn’t condone violence or cross-burning, calling that “nonsense.”
“We don’t go around committing hate crimes. We don’t beat up on [slug for gays] or black people or burn crosses or any of that nonsense,” he said. But he would gladly welcome those who were interested in joining the Klan. So far, he said he’s gotten positive response, with people honking their horns, waving and stopping to take pictures. Neighbor Margaret Martin, an African-American woman who lives directly across the street, is not one of them. “We all know what the KKK stands for,” Martin said. “I’m the only black person here. All I can do is pray for him.” Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference and the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP, said while the homeowners are allowed freedom of speech there are limits.
“It’s an insult to black folks and to all Americans. As many people as they have hung that look like me they are capable of hanging people who don’t look like me. It’s a symbol that they support hanging. It’s a threat and it ought to be challenged and it ought not be allowed in 2014.”
Hayes, who is flying the KKK flag as well as the Confederate flag, said he moved to the area from New York four years ago and began flying the flags two weeks ago. “Hey, everybody is entitled to do what they want to do. That’s what this country is all about — freedom of speech,” he said.
About a block away, the KKK flag flies at another house, where a “Members Wanted” sign is also posted. According to a news report, the resident, identified as Carolyn Jones, is defending her action. “If you want to join, you join. If you don’t, you don’t,” she said. “It’s not for everyone, and everyone joins for their own reasons. It’s not to be mean or show hate.”
A noose is also hanging outside her home and, like Hayes, she says she doesn’t condone violence. “There’s not burning of the crosses when you join. There’s no hate, you know. You don’t have to have prejudice or anything else to join. It’s none of that. It’s nothing about that,” she said. Asked if she would allow a Hispanic or an African American person to join, she responded, “Umm … I don’t really know much about it, but I don’t think so. African-American community, they have their beliefs and their own little things. Muslims, they have their synagogue and mosque and everything else. Why can’t a white person have this?”
Asked if she has any connection with the Klan member down the street, she said no. Her neighbors are also upset. One of them, who was not identified, said, “They’re racists.” Another noted that young children walking from school have to pass the flags and the nooses. Another said children aged 13 and 14 are handing out recruitment flyers. Neighbor Larry Gray said he’d just as soon see it all go away and the flags taken down. “Anyone can say whatever they want, I just don’t happen to like it,” he said.