GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dozens of robed Ku Klux Klansmen gathered around a burning cross in a remote field in North Florida. It was December 2014, and after the cross lighting ceremony ended, three klansmen asked for a quiet aside with the group’s Grand Knighthawk, a klan hitman. The knighthawk was Joe Moore, a former Army sniper who’d joined the group and quickly risen through the ranks due to his military background. The men handed Moore a photograph of a Black man that they wanted killed.
The story of the klan’s murder plot and the hitman’s secret recordings made over months in 2015 formed the basis of an Associated Press 2021 investigative series called “The Badge and The Cross,” which used the story as a jumping off point to explore the issue of white supremacist group infiltration of law enforcement.
Now, a new Hulu documentary, “Grand Knighthawk: Infiltrating the KKK,” based on The AP’s award-winning investigative series, begins streaming on Thursday. It was produced by ABC news Studios and George Stephanopoulos Productions in a first-time collaboration with The AP.
A murder plot, the KKK and infiltration of law enforcement
The FBI said the infiltration of U.S. law enforcement agencies by white supremacist groups has been a serious threat since at least 2006. The AP’s series highlighted such infiltration.
It started with the story of the modern-day murder plot by members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Florida, who also had been officers in the Florida Department of Corrections.
In 2020, AP journalist Jason Dearen obtained hours of secretly recorded audio and video conversations by the klan group in Florida that detailed a plot to murder a Black man in 2015.
The first story in this series shows why this tale, which at first blush seems like the one-off plot, is in truth a view into the violent world of white supremacists in law enforcement. He talked with experts on police violence, racism, and white supremacist groups and identified other officers in Florida and across the U.S.
Racism in Florida prisons
Dearen followed up with a second story showing how the racism problem is allowed to fester because of systemic indifference by Florida’s corrections officials.
Records and interviews with current and former guards and state prison investigators showed officers who were reported for white supremacist group affiliation were rarely investigated and could move from prison to prison with impunity.
A whistleblower’s story helped show how the state’s corrections system is designed to keep such reports inside prison walls.
An FBI informant comes out of hiding
Finally, after the first two stories exposed the systemic problem, Dearen received an email with the subject line “I am Joseph Moore.” The FBI informant had come out of hiding and wanted to tell his story only to Dearen. His message: White Supremacist infiltration of law enforcement was worse than even Dearen’s stories were describing.
In 10 years undercover in two KKK groups, Joe Moore told the FBI about klan members who worked as officers at the local, county and state levels.
“Grand Knighthawk: Infiltrating the KKK” starts streaming only on Hulu on Thursday.
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