SOUTH BEND, IND.—A museum official who questioned Star Wars actor Adam Driver’s recent comments about remembering frequent Ku Klux Klan rallies during his youth in northern Indiana now acknowledges he was wrong.
Driver made the comments during a USA Today interview about his role in the new movie BlacKkKlansman. Travis Childs of The History Museum in South Bend was quoted Monday saying the actor was likely misremembering his childhood in nearby Mishawaka.
“If they were as active as he said they were active, they’d have been in the paper every other week,” Childs told the Indianapolis Star.
But local Klan members and rallies were indeed frequent when Driver, 34, was growing up. Six men claiming to be Klansmen attacked a black couple and their baby arriving home in 1992, less than two years after Driver moved to Mishawaka from California at age 7, according to the South Bend Tribune. The men were later sent to prison for the crimes.
Four local white men claiming affiliation with a hate group called White Brotherhood set out to find and rob a black woman in 1993, killing Cathy Long in the process and drawing media coverage. They were also sentenced to prison, according to the newspaper.
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The Tribune also reported that five KKK rallies occurred in the area between 1993 and 2001, in addition to two KKK protests in 1998 when a white student was forced to remove a shirt with a racial slur.
The area was also known for Railton Loy, who claimed to be the head of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Loy’s Osceola farm was the site of more than 15 rallies and similar events between 2000 and 2007, including the annual “White Pride Fest,” according to the newspaper.
Childs, who moved to the area in 1999, said he hadn’t adequately researched the Klan’s history in the area before commenting on Driver’s assertions.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I would have never guessed there were that many events. Shocked and saddened.”
Childs said he regrets that people outside Indiana who read about the state’s Klan history will develop a negative impression.
“You can’t lie though,” he said. “You can’t deny … that they were here. Indiana was the backbone of the KKK for a lot of years” in the early 20th century.
Historians estimate that nearly a third of Indiana’s native-born white Protestant men were Klan members at one point. More than 30 hate groups operate in the state today, with three of them affiliated with the Klan, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.