Every so often, the national media (mostly newspapers) play a little game that makes them feel like good about themselves. They go into areas of the rural South, talk to people who will say what they want to hear, and write their own little Southern Gothic about how terrible Dixie is. The most recent case happened in St. Martinville last month.
The story, written by Abigail Hauslohner and Emily Guskin, alleged among other things that St. Martinville is hub for the KKK.
Ku Klux Klan membership has declined across the country, but it maintains an active recruiting wing in St. Martinville, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery-based nonprofit organization that tracks hate groups.
That’s right folks. St. Martinville, which is predominantly filled with Catholics, is full of KKK members. They just love the KKK. The story didn’t try to verify that claim or even talk to people in town to see if there were actually KKK members. Instead they took the word of the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose credibility – if it ever had much – has been completely shot in recent years thanks to a long string of false accusations made against those with whom the SPLC’s leftist managers disagree politically.
But the next smear from the story is what really upset some locals, most notably Mayor Thomas Nelson.
The most recent source of tension came last year, when St. Martinville officials shut down the town’s decades-old annual Mardi Gras parade — a move viewed negatively by many black residents and positively by many whites.
The parade participants were mostly black, as were the out-of-town fans the celebration drew, and it was growing.
Quinn felt Nelson’s decision to shut down the parade pandered to white voters: “He promised the whites he was going to shut the n—– parade down if they voted for him.”
Quinn is Espinola Quinn, a tax preparer from St. Martinville who is black and thought it would be cool to casually throw race grenades at the mayor.
Nelson didn’t like that one bit, and this week he filed a lawsuit against Quinn for defamation.
Those statements were “absolutely false,” the petition claims, and were made “with actual malice.” The petition also claims that Quinn made the statements either knowing they were false, or with reckless disregard for whether they were false or not.
The petition alleges that the statements made with the intent of harming Nelson’s reputation, and also claims that damage was done.
Quinn’s main point, that the Newcomers Parade in St. Martinville was shut down because of racism, is also patently false. The parade was shut down after the UL Lafayette police chief was asked to conduct a survey of the parade, the amount of barricades compared to the number of people and so forth.
What they found was that the parade would need to effectively double the budget with more security and barricades because of the enormous number of people that went to the event every year. The city didn’t have that kind of money, so it was cancelled. The parade was almost bigger than the town, and with a report from a police chief just completed stating what they needed to maintain a safe parade, it was a lawsuit just waiting to happen.
But if you write for the Washington Post, the non-existent KKK that stalk the streets of St. Martinville were the real culprits.