By Clint Confehr
COLUMBIA, TN — While an “imperial wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan bonded out of the Maury County Jail within nine hours of his arrest on intimidation charges, the juvenile he allegedly drove around town to post KKK recruitment fliers wasn’t released from juvenile detention until Tuesday afternoon, nearly five days after the adult’s arrest.
Tennessee’s Juvenile Court system procedures were followed by Judge Douglas Chapman who placed the 17-year-old boy on house arrest with his grandparents. They appeared in juvenile court as the boy could be seen by video in handcuffs, accused of being delinquent because if he was 18 his acts might be considered criminal. Hearings are required within 72 hours of detention. Weekends aren’t counted.
Columbia Police Sgt. Jason Sanders arrested Daniel Lane Walls, 38, of 3372 Fly Road, Santa Fe. He’s identified two ways as an “imperial wizard” of the Old Glory Knights KKK. Walls is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, vandalism and four counts of civil rights intimidation. He was released on $43,000 bond July 13 about 25 hours after more than 130 people gathered because of the crimes.
Christians and community leaders were called to stand against hatred and discuss what the city police Facebook page described as “hate fliers” warning “race traitors, mixed breeds, communist, homosexuals… the Klan is back…”
State law says “It is the right of every person regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion or national origin to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and bodily injury caused by the activities of groups and individuals.”
Christ’s words — Forgive them … they know not what they do — were repeated often to the integrated audience reacting to the fliers posted here at four churches, an apartment complex and a business.
“Forgiveness, of course, is fundamental for a Christian,” the Rev. Tanya Mason, pastor of Bethel Chapel AME Church, said Saturday when she refrained from saying the perpetrators didn’t know what they were doing. “That gets deep into theology.” Stuck to the side of Bethel Chapel’s marquee July 9 was a klan membership recruitment flier. The marquee’s message: God’s word is consistent. It changes humanity. Sunday morning, she urged vigilance, wisdom, caution and preparedness.
KKK fliers were posted at Bethel Chapel, Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Faith United Baptist Church, ACTS Christian Center, Muletown Pizza’s mobile kitchen and, according to various sources, the entrance to an apartment complex. Muletown Pizza is named in Walls’ warrants charging vandalism and contributing to the delinquency of a minor who’s not named because of his age.
Upon consultation with District Attorney Brent Cooper, Assistant DA Scott Speer conferred with defense attorney Jack West who stood with the juvenile’s grandparents in court Tuesday. An announcement to Chapman detailed terms of house arrest for the boy. He’s to have no contact with Walls nor go to the home of another relative described in court. “The DA wants to remove … influences…” according to a statement in court. Other conditions abide by statements from County Juvenile Services Director Nicholas Abdallah. Chapman asked the boy questions and replied to his response saying, “That’s not high on my list.” Apparently, what the boy sought was not granted.
Speaking at the public gathering in a church annex on 9th Street, Police Chief Jeremy Alsup declined to share his opinion on whether the boy’s case should be transferred from juvenile court so he might be tried as an adult. That’s a decision for the DA, he said. Alsup did, however, tell the public that police are working to prevent another such incident here. In Shelbyville, KKK calling cards were left where Biden-Harris campaign signs were damaged in October 2020.
“This is 2023 and it’s time for a change,” Maury County NAACP President Terry Hannah said before the July 13 meeting. “We’ve come together in solidarity to show that we’re not afraid.”
Rev. Mason said she appreciates police “diligence… but it doesn’t stop here. Justice will come from guilty verdicts and changed laws. This is the start of a long process.” Mason said she planned on Monday to return Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s voice mail from last week. Others said the U.S. Attorney’s office in Nashville has been called.
An email address inviting klan membership was included on the flier. A reply email: named Daniel Walls as an imperial wizard; said “some of us may be attending” the public meeting; claimed secrecy; and denied anything other than “maybe” littering, or any awareness that fliers were posted at Black churches. That reply was to a “press inquiry” for a “fuller story.”
Internet searches also reveal the Santa Fe resident is an Old Glory Knights leader.
Knowing secrecy is KKK methodology, the NAACP Branch president indicated a willingness to meet “with them if they were willing.” It’s “fine” to advocate for yourself, “but don’t bring threats and hate to other people,” Hannah said, acknowledging the local Stand Together Fellowship as a suitable venue.
Interviewed before the meeting, Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt said “Maury County is going to unite. This makes us stronger and more united. The flier is despicable… You don’t threaten our family.” Also before the meeting, County Commission Chairman Eric Previti called the fliers “pure hate.” As for security video posted by police on Facebook; “It looks like it’s a pair of kids, but they had to learn it from somebody.”
Apparently, Mason said, the 17-year-old is being molded by an adult; “My heart goes out to him… There’s still hope for him to change his idea of who people of color are…”
Previti and others said they want the crime prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.” The commissioner added, “I believe in forgiveness… I also believe there’s a reckoning.”
Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church posted video from July 12 on its Facebook page. Monitor TnTribune.com for another story.