The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), a so-called Confederate “heritage” group, recently denounced the decision of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a North Carolina-based Klan group, to hold a July 2015 protest in front of the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia.
According to a press release issued by the SCV, the group’s membership “vehemently oppose[s] and denounce[s] this hateful and divisive event.” The SCV also trumpeted what it referred to as its “strictly enforced ‘hate’ policy,” claiming that anyone with ties to any racist organization or hate group is denied membership and will be “immediately expelled.” The statement was attributed to Charles Kelly Barrow, the “commander-in-chief” of the SCV.
One may legitimately wonder how “strictly enforced” the SCV’s “hate” policy actually is. After all, one of the major figures in the SCV for many years has been Kirk Lyons, who has played a major role in the politicization of the SCV during that span. For decades, Lyons has been a friend to and represented numerous white supremacists in court cases, once describing himself as an “active sympathizer” of their causes. Lyons has also spoken to or before a variety of extremist groups, ranging from the white supremacist website Stormfront to the equally white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC).
The SCV has its own CCC problem. The connections between the “heritage” group and the white supremacist group—the latter allegedly a source of education and inspiration for Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof—are extensive. In January 2014, for example, three members of the Council of Conservative Citizens, including its founder and leader Gordon Lee Baum (who died in March 2015), all of whom were SCV members, received “SCV War Veteran Medals” from one of the group’s Missouri chapters. Another CCC founder, Leonard Wilson, who died in 2013, was an SCV member and the former Alabama state commander of the SCV.
In 2014, SCV member (and former Tennessee state commander) Gene Andrews spoke at the CCC’s annual national conference. Andrews also contributed an article to the CCC website in 2010. In 2009 and 2011, Cecil Fayard, then the “National Chaplain” of the SCV, spoke before the Carroll County, Mississippi, chapter of the CCC. In 2008, SCV member John Flippin, also a CCC member, spoke before the Webster County, Mississippi, chapter. These are just a few examples of SCV-CCC crossover.
Even Charles Kelly Barrow, the current commander, may have had extremist ties. According to a 2002 Southern Poverty Law Center report, Barrow was a member of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group that has recently organized protests that have included neo-Nazis and issued dire warnings of “race war.”