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KKK presence remains in Colorado

Feb. 27, 2012 at 3:31 PM

DURANGO, Colo., Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The Ku Klux Klan has had a long history in Colorado, and the state still has 12 active white supremacist groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center says.

Cole Thornton, Imperial Grand Wizard of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the KKK, which claims to be the largest Klan offshoot in the country, told the Durango Herald "membership is booming in Colorado," part of a rise in the white supremacist movement nationally, he said.

"The truth is that the radical right in the U.S. has grown enormously in the past 10 years, particularly since Obama's election in 2008," SPLC spokesman Mark Potuck said.

The Durango area of Colorado was "Klan dominated, about the 1920s and 30s," local historian Duane Smith said. The Fort Lewis College Center for Southwest Studies in Durango maintains archival records from that era, including newspapers, correspondence and membership lists.

"We got an e-mail from two people asking to join our klavern. I had to explain we were a library, and the documents were just research materials," librarian Elayne Silversmith said.

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