This is part three of a series that charts the short history of the Ku Klux Klan in the Northern Territory of Australia and the involvement of NT police officer Constable David Jennings in that story.
In parts one and two of this series I examined the brief rise and spectacular and sudden fall from peculiar grace of Klan member NT Police officer David Jennings and the only Australian branch of the Klan – of which Jennings was apparently the only member of – authorised by the Klan in the United States.
In this part I will look briefly at public relations advice received by Constable Jennings from Carl Hand Jnr., then US National organiser of the Klan based in Los Angeles. As I noted in part two, the Klan at that time was riven into two warring factions, one controlled by David Duke, based in Los Angeles, the other led by Bill Wilkinson and based in Louisiana.
The letter to Constable Jennings from Carl Hand Jnr. was dated 19 September 1978, nine months after Jennings’ Klan membership was authorised and a month after he was recognised – by David Duke’s Los Angeles-based Klan faction – as an “organiser” of the clan in Australia.
Two other dates are relevant – in March 1978 Jennings wrote a letter to several news outlets outlining a meeting that he claimed to have been held outside of Katherine, south of Darwin earlier that month. That letter was not published in full by any outlet until October 1978 (but see the next part of this series) and was passed onto NT Police Commissioner Peter McAulay. Also in early October NT Police laid two internal disciplinary charges against Constable Jennings – soon followed by a further three – in relation to his Klan activities, including appearing on an ABC TV broadcast in full Klan robes and pointed hood.
The following extracts were first published in the NT News on 31 October 1978.
Territory Ku Klux Klansman, David Jennings, has been advised by his American counterparts on how to use even an unwilling press to get his message across. David Jennings resigned from the Northern Territory Police Force last week, one day before he was due to face internal hearing on charges relating to claims of Ku Klux Klan activity in the Territory.
The advice Jennings received is in a letter, written by the US National organiser of the Ku Klux Klan, Carl Hand Junior, and seized with other Klan items from Jennings home recently.
In his letter to Jennings, Carl Hand suggested that to get across the message of his activities, he take out an advert in the newspaper. In another suggestion was that he send the newspaper a copy of the KKK official publication Crusader, of which, and noted, Jennings had been forwarded 10 copies.
“If both these failed, you might try issuing press releases. And if that still fails, there is always the concerned citizen routine, that is getting a cooperative friend who is not identified publicly with the Klan, to write nasty letters denouncing your activities. This is always as a last resort, but it never fails,” Carl Hand Jnr. concluded.