Posted by
Paul K
• 11.19.09 11:00 am


Anthony Karen is a former Marine, bouncer, bodyguard, and a seriously badass photojournalist. His approach to photo documentary is profoundly personal and exclusive. He’s gained access to Klan rallies, Voodoo rituals, and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Anthony Karen is a former Marine, bouncer, bodyguard, and a seriously badass photojournalist. His approach to photo documentary is profoundly personal and exclusive. He’s gained access to Klan rallies, Voodoo rituals, and the Westboro Baptist Church. His most contentious undertaking to date is his documentation of extremist hate groups in America. For a big guy with a thick New York accent, the access he’s gained to document these images is astonishing. Below is a personal and at times alarming collection of images from his work with the Klan.

Currently Anthony will be going to the West Bank to work on a project about burn victims as well as documenting a family with a severely autistic child in New York. His work can be viewed at anthonykaren.com.

-PAUL K

Here’s what Karen had to say about his photos:


1. An Imperial Knighthawk (security) from the Mississippi White Knights, armed with a AR-15, stands besides a fellow Klansmen shortly before a cross lighting ceremony in a remote area of Alabama.


2. This is the front door to an old abandoned trailer home, which remains on the paramilitary compound owned by the Imperial Klans of America. The top sticker is a Mioak. It’s a widely used Klan symbol that is basically four Ks connected at the back. There is a red blood drop in the center signifying the blood of Christ.


3. A Klan Christmas get together at “The Farm” in South Bend, Indiana. A Klan Santa stopped by, complete with his Grand Titan Klan robe. Little Luke Skywalker with light saber in hand isn’t quite sure what to make of the situation.


4. Does this guy really need a fucking caption?


5. Another shot taken at “The Farm” in Indiana. Imperial Wizard Phil Lawson with his grand kids.


6. Two officers of the National Socialist’s Women’s Division. I took this in Wisconsin at a demonstration on the state capitol’s steps. It was the first time I approached the group and asked if I could document them.

I don’t have to believe what they believe. But I feel obliged to observe without judgment. I do get invited to events, to rallies, and if I’m not invited, I always ask if it’s OK if I show up. I never just go and start shooting. You need to develop a relationship, of sorts, before poking a camera in someone’s face.


7. Neo-Nazis give the Hitler salute at the annual “Nationals” weekend of the National Socialist Movement (NSM). The weekend events included a memorial service for the late “Wild” Bill Hoff, a veteran member of the NSM who was running as its vice-presidential candidate with John Taylor Bowles and who died in a car crash in December 2006.


8. A Ku Klux Klan Labor Day gathering in rural Arkansas, in 2007. Members and supporting Klan realms from five different states came together for a three-day weekend of racial unity. The gathering included a BBQ, games, an award ceremony, a Klan naturalization, and a 12 foot cross “lighting” ceremony, which, due to a statewide burn ban on crosses, was illuminated with Christmas tree lights. This was also my first introduction to moonshine and road kill gumbo … the seed had been planted.


9. This was another big break for me: It’s a group who morphed Klan and White Nationalist ideologies. I had some amazing plum moonshine on the trip. I was also pretty jacked this year. I had two skinhead chicks tell me I was too buff to be a photographer (an insinuation that I could be a federal agent; I get that from time to time). I continued to stuff my face with dollar burgers and cheap beer … I’ve been following this group since. National Geographic showed up one year and did a feature for Gangland. It was mostly bullshit. They asked them to put on robes and shoot guns, etc. It doesn’t really go down like that. Keeping sensationalism alive, I guess. Go Naty Geo!


10. I’m not sure why, but the majority of the photos Paul K chose are from when I first started getting seriously into photography. That being said, this image was taken during my second Klan adventure. Contrary to popular belief, the Klan only dons the robe during public demonstrations and for the cross lighting ceremony. They expected rain that night, so the cross lighting was canceled. The Imperial Wizard of that particular group had one of his members robe up for me. He came out and his daughter went in for a hug. The light was terrible, but being that it was a Klan dude hugging his daughter, this novice photographer at the time saw a Kodak moment.


11. Here’s Ms. Ruth, a Ceremonial Robe Maker from the South. I once said in an interview that all beliefs aside, I thought she was a very nice lady. At the time, the amount of mindless negative feedback I received confused me; I wasn’t sure if honesty was what the people really wanted but fuck it, that’s how it is.


12. This young lady made the cover of a White Nationalist magazine (sorry, I forgot the name). When I met her she was selling these white SS panties at a skinhead unity festival in a remote area of KY.

13. The person on the right has a tattoo on his chest -- it’s difficult to make out in this photo, but it’s a tribute to the 70th police precinct in NYC, whose officers used a toilet plunger to violate Mr. Louima.
---


14. This little girl loved posing for the camera. She’s shown here with her mom, who is adjusting the hood on her new Klan robe. I’ve heard through the grapevine that she and her family are no longer members.


15. A husband and wife walk arm in arm during a Ku Klux Klan cross lighting ceremony at an unknown location. This was one of those very tense trips. The group was extremely private and it took a while for them to warm up to my presence.


16. Ms. Ruth is folding a newly completed robe. The green color is for a Grand Dragon: an officer rank within the ranks of the KKK similar to a state leader. After it’s folded, she’ll hold it close to her body, bless the robe, and say a prayer for the person who will wear it.

It’s more than just taking pictures for me, it’s putting together a cohesive body of work and all the time and effort it took me to get to that point. It’s also about people allowing me into their most private moments and accepting me along with a camera. It’s a true gift and I feed off of it. What can be better than say, wandering around a remote region of Haiti and meeting a Voodoo Priestess, who brings me to her temple? Before you know it, I’m sharing a meal with all of them, learning their rituals, and seeing something that very few outsiders will ever see and even though you don’t understand each other’s language, the time just flows and you have an amazing experience. I’ve had plenty of moments that unmotivated me, but in the end, I try to remember that I don’t do this for anybody else but me, and right after I take my first shot, it all falls right back into place and I’m refreshed. I can’t deal with the 9 to 5 world; I crave the edge, the learning about other cultures, what makes people tick, and yes, sometimes being in a dangerous situation. The people I photograph that are in the Klan all have jobs that they possibly could lose due to their beliefs, but they trust me into their homes and let me photograph their most sacred rituals. Anybody can Google my name and see how often I visit places like Haiti, and yet most Klan organizations welcome me without any restrictions.


Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    that’s a lot of inbreeding there.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is it wrong that I want to get that SS underwear for my Jewish girlfriend and have her wear it while we’re fooling around? No? Sweet. Now, who can pick one up for me? Don’t think I’d be welcome at a “skinhead unity festival”.

  3. FEAR THE BIG BLACK DICK says:

    Is it true that all white people have a ventriloquist dummy in their closet?

  4. just a cunt hair away says:

    nice work!

  5. gay dude says:

    Arv, send the tattooed guy the Brack Frag shirt!

  6. poopsmear says:

    whoa, this is the same fella who did that “and every day was overcast” post? this guy is fucking awesome and has balls of steel!

  7. harry says:

    tpks, dude.

  8. Emotional Aids says:

    His balls are not of steel but of flesh. Sweet wonderful flesh.

  9. Super Broker says:

    Ha! The KKK are so antiquated and ridiculous and thoroughly unscary. Loved looking at this post, though. Thanks.

  10. just a cunt hair away says:

    @Super Broker- antiquated and ridiculous though they may be, i somehow doubt you’d find them “unscary” in person, or have the balls of steely-flesh to say that to them. nice try though.

  11. Chad Allan says:

    Some intense photos!

  12. fighting women is easy and fun says:

    i cracked up about the last one echoing a wyeth.

    hope nobody is boning those poor kids.

  13. Im Funny says:

    Do you suppose that with the titles that they have, character assignment in local D&D games goes far smoother than anywhere else?

  14. GiZZz says:

    The dude with racist stamped across his forehead is throughly the most frightening. The rest of these fools look like clowns. Big, brightly clothed clowns.

  15. 5-0 says:

    “I’m the Christian the devil & liberal media warned you about”

    It’s amazing that slogan made it through the Klan’s bumper sticker quality control department.

  16. dirtbutt says:

    you know even the other neo nazis think that guy with ‘racist’ tattooed on his forehead is a bit off

  17. just a cunt hair away says:

    skinheads get all the hot chicks though.

  18. buffalowinger says:

    the dude with racist on his forehead definately has a good sense of humor.

  19. say what says:

    this is rad. paulk you are brilliant.

  20. HOMO TIME says:

    this is awesome!

  21. wyatt says:

    sooooooo… they hate black people? big whoop. so does the tv.

  22. bolo says:

    photo 10: “Get off me Paw, yer crushin mah cigarettes!”

  23. Super Broker says:

    @just a cunt hair away, you’re probably right, I would NOT enjoy my lilywhite liberal ass being dropped into a fervent KKK rally. But, holy shit, my god, it is SO hard for my mind to fathom that there are people who really think there’s such a thing as a “nigger” or a reason to “ignite” a cross. It even makes me uncomfortable and sad just sitting here at my desk where I shouldn’t give a gd fuck about anything beyond my own damn well-being.

  24. just a cunt hair away says:

    @ Super Broker- i thought we were talkin’ about if they’re scary or not? what?

  25. dudn't matter says:

    Nice job showing their humanity despite their inhumanity. Where does the line form to join, “The Loosely Organized Folks Who Harbor Moderate Bigotry Under a Thin Veil of Feigned Righteous Indignation at the Suggestion that We Harbor Moderate Bigotry?” Oh, that’s right. We’re all already members.

  26. Super Broker says:

    @ cunt hair, OK, if “scary” is the hot topic, I say they’re NOT SCARY.

  27. just a cunt hair away says:

    @dudn’t matter- ha ha ha, nice one!
    @Super Broker- your lie is scary.

  28. Fred Perry says:

    Am I noticing a pattern here? Does StreetCarnáge like to glorify Skinheadedness?

  29. LillyPond says:

    wow. little girl posing in her new clan outfit is my fave

  30. brooklynchimp says:

    ..best write-ups in a long time.

  31. Kennedy says:

    Imagine going for job interviews in JYC with that “Racist” tattoo on your forehead. Zoinks – the rent is cheaper in Queens!

  32. Turd Town says:

    Where can I get one of those skull n’ crossbones “niggers beware” t-shirts? That kid doing the SS salute, maybe you could get me his email address?

  33. the realist says:

    it wouldn’t be complete without the wide array of overalls.

  34. lol@u says:

    @FEAR THE BIG BLACK DICK: you’re not supposed to know about that.

  35. Pussy Tastemaker says:

    Kinda wanna fuck that girl in the nazi uniform but pull out before she has to rear my kid as narrow minded bigot.

  36. Danny says:

    This is a great example of real journalism, simply recording what you saw. Despite how you feel about the subject matter, at least he put it all out in the way it was as he shot it, for you to make the decisions on how it made you feel, not for him to make it for you based on his views.

  37. Sergian says:

    Fucking Americans.

  38. ZOGISTAN says:

    My people already killed christ. Burning the cross won’t make him more dead.

  39. french guy says:

    hey arv, see what HE just did there?

  40. just a cunt hair away says:

    @Sergian- i love fucking americans, though truth be told, they’re so awesome that really they fuck me, and i moan in awe. i love it!

  41. Gayness_in_Uranus says:

    It’s adorable how the KKK abide by state laws and decorate the cross with Christmas lights…festive even.

    A wicked post from a very, very gutsy man. Nicely done!

  42. […] In North America many prisoners and criminal gangs use distinctive tattoos to indicate facts about their criminal behavior, prison sentences, and organizational affiliation. (found here) […]

  43. zzzzzzzz says:

    Finally some excellent content from someone who isn’t completely self-absorbed.

  44. yep says:

    I like the Klan kid wearing a GnR t shirt…really hates black people, but can give credit to Slash for being a sick guitarist.

  45. kitty says:

    i’m tryna fuck racist forehead.

    he’ll love this black pussay.

  46. where's my phone? says:

    I think when he’s referring to “rural Arkansas” he is referring to Zinc, a town that’s about 90 mins from where i grew up. fucking frightening. cute kids though.

  47. Uncle Wah Wah says:

    I don’t know ho wdisturbing this is. I see alot of families here spending time with each other. Just like in the WalMart comercials.

  48. […] you mean Paul K the photographer and Justin the dude who owns Atomic Passion? Why “fuck?” Those guys […]

  49. James says:

    Anyone got the address or email address for Ms Ruth the robe maker as me and my mates want some here in the UK

  50. Adam says:

    Great photoshoot, and realism, no fake stories. That was a pleasure reading you.

  51. wyatt says:

    I just want to say that the guy on the far left in photo #9?

    yeah, gayest seig heil EVER.

  52. Michel says:

    La bassesse humaine n’a ni âge ni époque.
    La violence des Hommes est éternelle, comme sa capacité à créer le beau.
    La nature humaine est ainsi faite.
    Il faut le savoir.
    Mais il faut combattre sans cesse.

  53. Lucka says:

    This inomfraiton is off the hizool!

  54. Anonymous says:

    i LOVE the KKK and
    fuck the niggas

  55. […] http://streetbonersandtvcarnage.com/blog/intimate-with-the-klan/#commentsMr. Bowles,I presume that picture No. 7 shows the gathering where the members of the NSM made a mess of the Redneck Shop, threw garbage about, etc. ? Just seeing these pictures brought home to me what you and the chairman have said about the NSM being filled with freaks and losers.J.H. […]

  56. […] http://streetbonersandtvcarnage.com/blog/intimate-with-the-klan/#commentsMr. Bowles,I presume that picture No. 7 shows the gathering where the members of the NSM made a mess of the Redneck Shop, threw garbage about, etc. ? Just seeing these pictures brought home to me what you and the chairman have said about the NSM being filled with freaks and losers.J.H. […]

  57. Alabama GRAND DRAGON says:

    MRS RUTH IS A WONDERFUL WOMAN . and does wonderful work

  58. Katie Fenmore says:

    Once Whites become a minority, White nationalism and other such racial ideologies will become more common. Whites already feel backed into a corner but become so petrified by terms like “racist” that they’ll never admit it in discussion.

    The Klansfolk you photographed have the balls to believe in something that would earn somebody else a ton of hatred and ostracism. Kudos to them and you for keeping the organization popular in the media. In addendum, all publicity is good publicity. ;)


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