A South Carolina Ku Klux Klan leader claims his group is finding new members in the New Lenox area and plans to conduct a clandestine neighborhood watch in town.
"All I can tell you is we're recruiting and we're having great success," said William J. Spears, the "Imperial Kaltrop" of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the "Realm of South Carolina."
Spears responded to a query about Klan literature left in the driveway of a home near the intersection of Cedar Road and Joliet Highway. He said his group distributed the leaflet during one of its "night rides when we go out dropping off fliers."
In addition to nocturnal leaflet distribution, Spears said the Klan patrols the streets looking for crime.
"If we see any illegal activity we report it to the police," he said, discouraging the notion that the Klan would try to take the law into its own hands or act as vigilantes.
"They have nothing to be afraid of," Spears said of the people of New Lenox. "I think they should feel very safe the Klan is conducting neighborhood watches."
New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann was less than enthused by the prospect of a KKK neighborhood watch coming to town.
"I was unaware that they were Guardian Angels," said Baldermann, who has never encountered the Klan before, either as mayor or during his time as the Chicago Ridge police chief.
Spears declined to say which town in the Realm of South Carolina he operates out of and also would not disclose the location of the Klan's New Lenox headquarters.
"It's a secret," he said. "We're the invisible empire. That's our nickname."
Spears was equally tightlipped about how many members are in the Klan's New Lenox chapter. Baldermann questioned why the Spears was keeping so quiet.