After years of dedicated service with the Tacony Town Watch, Bill Walters was told his services were no longer needed earlier this year. The reason for his ouster? Walters is a proud member of the East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire, that empire being the Ku Klux Klan. And Walters isn’t just a member. No, he’s the group’s Grand Dragon, which at least sounds impressive.
“We received information that Bill had been distributing flyers in the neighborhood trying to recruit new members,” says town watch president Joe Nicoletti of the excommunication, adding that no one on the town watch had a clue about their neighbor’s association with the Klan until the flyers turned up. “And part of our bylaws state that members must promote harmony in the neighborhood, and we all know that harmony is not what the KKK is about.”
Walters has been with the KKK, which he consistently refers to as "my Christian group," for over 30 years. He has lived in the Tacony neighborhood for the last 20, joining the town watch about five years ago. Walters also served as Republican committeeman in the 65th Ward for more than a decade until he was recently kicked out.
And Walters doesn't get what all of the fuss is about.
He claims that he's being persecuted for his religious beliefs. "We are a conservative Christian group," he says. "My rights were infringed upon. I can't believe in what I want to? This has infringed on my First Amendment rights. It's reverse discrimination."
Last weekend, a handful of his fellow Klan members came to Tacony to show their support for Walters outside the neighborhood's Free Library, with Walters wearing his KKK uniform, as seen here.
After a large group of people showed up to laugh at and yell at them, the Klan left. The KKK is planning another rally there this fall.
Walters wants to take legal action against the town watch and the 65th Ward but hasn't been able to find a lawyer to take his case. He sent a letter to the ACLU, which turned him down, and now he's waiting for a reply from the Philadelphia Bar Association.
His Facebook page (his friends there include City Councilman David Oh, Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, Congressman Pat Meehan, attorney and former District Attorney and Councilman-at-Large candidate Michael Untermeyer, former State Representative Babette Josephs, meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz, and, well, Milton Street) is filled with the sort of things you'd expect from a guy with his background:
The Wicked including homosexuals will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God.
End White Discrimination; for every non white right our government passes they take away rights of the White Americans!!
STOP INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS
But, naturally, Walters maintains that he doesn't hate anyone or have a lick of prejudice in his body. The KKK isn't a hate group, he says.
"I know we have a bad name, but it's not that way no more," he insists. "When was the last time a black or Hispanic got hung on a tree?"
Walters says that he's going to wait and see how things play out with the lawyers, assuming he finds one, but that his next step might be to start a town watch of his own with KKK members.
“We’re basically the same thing as the town watch,” says Walters. “We want to try to get rid of the trash coming in.”