On Feb. 28, Salt Lake Community College criminal justice instructor Ron Stallworth spoke at the Taylorsville Redwood Student Center.
Stallworth, who was a member in the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and who is also African-American, spoke about his experiences in the infamous organization.
As a detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, part of Stallworth’s job was to monitor the KKK and other subversive groups in the area. He saw a recruitment advertisement for the Klan that said, “For more information send a letter to a P.O. Box.”
“I filled out a letter inquiring about this ad, and I signed it Ron Stallworth,” Stallworth says. “I should have put down my undercover name.”
A few days later Stallworth received a call from the local recruiter who asked why he wanted to join the Klan. Stallworth told him that he was pure Aryan and that he hated minority races, which was just the kind of guy they were looking for.
The ruse became trickier when it came time for Stallworth to meet the recruiter face to face.
“We agreed to meet in about a week. After I hung up the phone, I told the sergeant, ‘I obviously can’t meet this this guy. I need somebody to pose as me,’” says Stallworth.
To complete the infiltration into the KKK, Stallworth needed a white version of himself
He found a fellow officer who shared a similar build. The officer was to go to the meeting and make the recruiter believe that he was the same person who was talking on the phone.
“I gave Chuck (white Ron) my identification, anything that had my name on it minus a photo,” says Stallworth.
At this meeting, the recruiter told white Ron about the plan to burn four large crosses in strategic places where they could be seen by most people in Colorado Springs. They also talked about Grand Wizard David Duke’s planned visit to the city.
After the meeting, Stallworth filled out the application and paid the fee for membership in the KKK.
“It was on January 2nd, 1979 that I received my KKK membership and was officially enrolled into David Duke’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” says Stallworth.
Stallworth had many phone conversations with Klan members
Some of those phone conversations were with Duke himself.
One time, Stallworth asked Duke if he was ever afraid of a black person calling, pretending to be white to get information about Duke and the Klan. Duke responded that he always knew when he was talking to a black person because of the way they pronounce certain words.
The investigation uncovered KKK members working in NORAD with top security clearance, infiltrating other military bases and prisons.
One of the biggest measures of success, according to Stallworth, was that no one was intimidated by a cross burning in Colorado Springs during the two years of this investigation since he was able to prevent such things from happening.
Stallworth was so successful that the Klan wanted him to run the local branch of the KKK. The investigation was closed soon after.
Stallworth says that today’s Klan is a remnant of what it used to be, but if anyone says that they are KKK, it should be considered a threat worthy of attention.
“Colorado Springs was a hopping city in terms of the white supremacists and black power militancy,” says Stallworth. “Could it possibly be happing here? I don’t know. Is Salt Lake City any different today from Colorado Springs back then? It’s a major metropolitan area in the west. It’s possible.”