Bill Wilkinson was once the Imperial Wizard, the leader of a faction of the Ku Klux Klan once described by the US Justice Department as the most violent sect of an exceptionally violent organization. Wilkinson disappeared in 1984, but resurfaced in the news today.
Raw Story reports that Wilkinson is now a multimillionaire running a resort on the Central American coast in San Pedro, Belize. Besides the tourist population, the island is primarily made up of blacks, Mayans, and Hispanics. So not exactly a Klan member’s favorite people. The Daily Mail had the chance to speak with Wilkinson.
“Life is real good, I love the island, it’s full of very friendly people,” he said. “I enjoy scuba diving, that’s what I came here for, snorkeling, fishing. People here know about my past but they don’t care, they accept me for who I am.”
Don’t let that talk of acceptance fool you, however — Wilkinson is still far from progressive on the issue of race relations.
“I am a segregationist,” he told The Daily Mail. “I believe in no intermingling in the schools and churches, things of that nature. I’m the same man I’ve always been. I wouldn’t let one [a black person] marry my children or grandchildren.”
From Raw Story:
[Wilkinson’s] past includes encouraging the Klan to brandish “submachine guns and sawed-off shotguns at rallies” and creating “a network of hidden commando camps where Klansmen and their women and children are being taught how to kill.” He was suspected of being involved in orchestrating the events that led to a shootout between Klansmen and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Council in 1979.
While The Daily Mail’s Ryan Parry was being led through San Pedro to observe how well Wilkinson fit in, he asked one of the locals about Wilkinson’s segregationist past.
“He may think that, but that’s not what everybody thinks,” the unidentified man responded. “He speaks like we can’t all live together, but he’s living in a f*cking town where all the people live, you’ve got black people, you’ve got Mayans, you’ve got Creoles, you’ve got Spanish. It takes a mentally insane person to think like that.”