Tuesday, February 14, 2006
On KKK road trip, evil lurks in Ark. woods
By Michele McPhee/ The Beat
Monday, February 13, 2006 - Updated: 12:05 AM EST
TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Are you a hate-filled psycho with aspirations of becoming a white supremacist? Any thoughts of storming a gay bar with a hatchet or scrawling a swastika on a synagogue?
Well, let me fill you in on the truth of how the Ku Klux Klan lives, knowledge garnered while entering the back woods of Zinc, Ark. (population 75, likely all related), in search of the Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Thomas Robb.
The route into Robb’s home is a rocky, dirt stretch past trailers stained with smoke from smoldering rubbish and rundown homes obscured by piles of old cars, broken toys and rusted tools.
Actual people were scarce. The only signs of life were satellite dishes outside ramshackle homes. There was one woman in a housedress and red socks who flashed a grin outside her trailer. Wired to a fence post outside her property was a Kerry/Edwards sign.
Perhaps this was the woman’s way of protesting the “dangerous, inbred mother------s,” as one Zinc resident described the Robb clan, who live a few miles up the dirt road.
Getting to the Robb house was not easy, despite the helpful Zinc resident’s directions: “Drive over a slab and take a right at the mountain cave.” The directions came only after a warning to Herald photographer David Goldman: “Boy, you best be careful.”
The few homes we did see flew Confederate flags and banners emblazoned with two number 8s, which I later found out is code for: “Heil Hitler.” (H is the 8th letter of the alphabet.)
When we finally found the Robb house, it was disappointing. Apparently the KKK is broke.
There were no shotgun-wielding men in white sheets guarding the gates. No nooses hanging from the trees as reminder of the KKK’s stronger years. No fire-scarred crosses in his yard. Nothing there but a broken-down Lincoln Continental with a dented hood.
A friendly dog — all white, of course — played with roosters that wandered the Robb property. Maybe Robb spent the Klan’s money on haispray for his wife’s beehive? Or perhaps the Klan missed the white sale at Wal-Mart and paid full-price for sheets?
Behind the Robb home was his Soldiers of the Cross Bible Camp. From the outside, it looks like a kid’s day care center. Inside, though, is more insidious.
Inlaid in the wood over the doors were the words Loyalty, Trust, Service. Under the inscription was a kitchen with a hand-scrawled note reading: “Don’t want burnt food? Don’t bother the cooks.”
Two glass doors inlaid with a yellow cross against red glass opened into a TV studio with a silkscreen of the Capitol set up in front of video equipment.
The image was flanked by two long, red banners containing KKK crosses. There was a sign warning that the area was under 24-hour surveillance, but lucky for us Yankees, no soldiers of the cross came.
Investigators believe it was Robb’s compound — or one like it — that 18-year-old Jacob Robida was headed for in the days after he went into Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford and attacked three men with a hatchet and handgun before fleeing the state, bound for West Virginia. There the teen picked up his girlfriend, a 33-year-old mother of three.
By the time I arrived in Arkansas, Robida was dead. So was the woman. Along with an elderly police officer who had the misfortune of pulling Robida over for speeding.
It’s unclear where Robida got the Ruger .9mm used to kill three people — himself included — and wound another three; or why a kid of Portuguese descent wanted to hang out with the KKK. But for anyone else considering joining Robb’s army (he claims there are 30 members from Massachusetts) be prepared. It ain’t pretty in them woods.
Posted by Nikki at 2/14/2006 04:53:00 PM