Shaun Winkler, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who's running for Bonner County Sheriff in Idaho, had an unusual stop on the campaign trail. On Friday May 4th, 2012, he hosted a traditional cross-lighting on his own property -- and to mitigate fear and misinformation about cross-lightings, invited the media. The Coeur d'Alene Press has the original story; the Seattle Weekly also published a story flagrantly biased against Winkler which referred to the anti-racist Bonner County Human Rights Task Force as a "voice of sanity". The Bonner County Daily Bee was the only media outlet to refer to it as a "cross lighting" rather than a "cross burning".
The Press writes:
The evening began like many a family picnic elsewhere in the country. Group members barbecued and enjoyed a congenial meal with one another. Afterward, Winkler called everyone's attention to speak for about a half-hour on the racial, political and social groups they opposed. Finally, once darkness fell, the evening concluded by setting a wooden cross afire.
Winkler explained that the cross-lighting actually reflects religious symbolism. The religious component of the ceremony dates back to Scottish origins, when clan members used it as a means of communication. Winkler added that it's also a representation of Jesus Christ's light spreading to the rest of the world. The Knights Party offers a more detailed explanation of the cross-lighting ceremony HERE.
Despite the fact that some in the community have strongly criticized Winkler's racial views, he soldiers on with his sheriff's candidacy. At a May 7th candidates forum at the Blanchard Community Center, Winkler continued to insist his Klan ties would not impact his performance as sheriff or make him susceptible to racial profiling. Instead, he would focus on tough stances regarding drugs and alcohol; he advocates the execution of the perpetrators of any sexual crimes. But he committed a bit of a faux pas when he said "Most people don't know that we don't just oppose the Jews and the negroes. We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind."
Whoops! I don't think he really intended for that to come out that way. While we take issue with forced racial integration and Jewish supremacism, being a Jew or a Negro is not a crime. Sexual predation and drug trafficking are crimes. AudraMearns jumped all over that statement in the comments section to the Bonner County Daily Bee. Winkler's first electoral test comes on May 15th, when he squares off against incumbent Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and Ponderay Police Officer Tim Fry in the Republican primary, and Winkler candidly admits that those who can't deal with his Klan membership now are unlikely to vote for him on May 15th.