This is part five 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.
The following is the full text of an article in the Darwin Star, a modest newspaper that ran in opposition the NT News for some years. The article is noteworthy for two reasons – firstly that, apart from the brief comments made by Constable David Jennings to the NT News (see part two of this series), this piece represents the only available record of Jennings speaking about his membership of the Klan and his activities.
Second, this piece is disappointing because, despite the fact that the Darwin Star made a good get in putting Jennings on the record, the article doesn’t set out relevant facts, contains minimal critical analysis and doesn’t put Jennings to proof for his statements – many of which are contrary to established facts – and conduct, both in his capacity as an NT Police officer and his involvement with the Ku Klux Klan.
The Darwin Star, Thursday, November 9, 1978
“I have no money, no job. All I have is a crusade.” Klan chief calls for separatism.
“The Ku Klux Klan in Australia is about 1000 financial members today-and if I don’t treble that figure in three months, I’ll be very surprised”, David Jennings said last night.
Jennings, the former NT policeman who is self-styled leader of the KKK, told The Star he had no political leanings or ambitions… Simply a desire to see separatism between white and black. “I have no job, no money. All I have is a crusade” he said. “I want to see white with white, and black with black. “Let the white man live in peace with his neighbour, according to white man’s law. And let the black man do the same, without white man’s interference.”
Jennings, 28, resigned from the NT police a fortnight ago after five charges were preferred against him departmentally. All the charges, in effect, accused him of conduct prejudicial to the good name of the police. All arose from his confession to his superiors that he was the leader of the KKK in the NT.
Son of a commissioned police officer in another state, Jennings, married with three children, admitted he first came under notice of his superiors last year. The first occasion, he said, followed an attempt by Aborigines at Hooker Creek, on the northern edge of the Tanami Desert where he was stationed, to bring a “flagon wagon”, or truck laden with booze on to the reservation there. Jennings said he intercepted the truck, unloaded the 80 flagons of port wine, then he and others destroyed it with shot gun blasts and hand-held implements.
Later, some aborigines confined to the lock-up were released to do some manual labour, cleaning up weeds in the Hooker Creek town area. A station hand from the outlying area had some horse hobbles which were placed on the legs of the offenders, restraining them from running away, but causing them no discomfort.
“Through the efforts of some misguided white people, who enlisted the aid of the Central and Northern Legal Aid Services, these matters were given a lot of publicity, and brought to the notice of senior police officers” Jennings said.
“But there had been no wrongdoing on my part-departmental enquiries proved that” he said. According to Jennings, two cases in the white man’s court turned what was a joke into reality for him. The joke was when he wore a sheet to a fancy dress social function while he was stationed on Groote Eylandt.
“Everybody thought it was a great joke-and I certainly wasn’t serious about it” he said. The first case was that of Aborigines charged over the fatal wounding of another tribesman after the man had made sexual advances to his wife. The accused man was released on a six-month good behaviour bond. Two weeks later a white man who shot and killed another white man was jailed for seven years.
Jennings said one of the primary aims of the Klan was to achieve the division of white and black so that the black man lived in his own domain, according to his tribal law. “We must remove white police from the aboriginal reserves – and we must tell the black man: ‘Don’t you leave your reserve all you will be subject to the white man’s law’.
“Just look at the inequality of the Aboriginal land rights question. “Anyone with a miner’s right can dig up my front yard in search for minerals. The law says, though, that the white man cannot even venture onto the black man’s reserve without an entry permit.
“The former Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton, put the thing in its proper perspective when he said: “there cannot be any justice when black and white are not equal before the law”. So let’s have two sets of laws, and separatism, or self-determination, for both” Jennings said the KKK was not racist, not anti-Semitic, and didn’t hate anyone.
He said the burning cross of the Klan – which too many people associated with crucifixion, murder and other atrocities – simply signified the truth and the light of the KKK doctrine: the blazing spirit of Western Christian civilisation.
The grand wizard of the main section of the Klan in the United States, David Duke of Metairie, Louisiana, had sent him a telegram after his exposure as Klan leader. “Mr Duke asked me to ring him, reverse charge.
I did so, and he told me not to hesitate to call on him for funds if I ran out of money.” Jennings said. “Well, I have resigned, and I have no chance of getting a decent job in the NT, so my family and I will be moving on. “My resignation pleased my superiors, but not the regular non-commissioned policeman in the NT who know that, despite my so-called prejudices, I have never allowed anything to interfere with my duty. “Everywhere I have been stationed – and that’s a few places since I first joined the NT force in June 1974 – the aborigines have liked me, trusted me.
“Many of them think just like I do – and for the same reasons. They know there’s no place for the black man in the white man’s society.
“I came here with an open mind. I have nothing but gratitude and admiration for an aborigine who ran 25 miles one day to get help after I was seriously injured in a tangle with a bull, on Granite Downs Station, just over the South Australian border.
“I had a fractured skull. That bloke probably saved my life.” Jennings said there were about 500 financial members of the Klan in the NT, many of them keeping a low profile, for obvious reasons.
Many other people sympathised with his crusade, and provided moral and some financial support, without actually becoming financial members.
He said Klan sympathisers were active in universities in New South Wales and Victoria, and he hoped to visit the eastern states during the next few months.
He said high-ranking officials of the KKK from the USA would visit Australia in January, to further the cause of anti-white discrimination.