On 23 February 2016, photographs showing two people dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and holding signs in support of Donald Trump outside Cimarron High School during the Nevada Republican caucus started circulating on the internet:
While the above-displayed photographs are real — several news outlets have confirmed that two people wearing KKK robes were briefly present at a Nevada caucus polling place — the identities of the hooded figures, their political affiliations, and the motivation behind their wardrobe choices are still unknown.
On its face, the images show two Ku Klux Klan members showing their support for Donald Trump. This was the verdict reached by Occupy Democrats when they shared the photos on 24 February 2016:
Donald Trump’s popularity with white supremacy groups has been widely documented. His particular brand of ethnonationalist rabble-rousing and the blaming of minorities for all of our nation’s problems has struck a chord with those misguided bigots who believe that white Christian males are a superior race, and Trump’s refusal to condemn them has only encouraged others leaning that way to embrace the hatred that Trump has made a key part of his electoral platform.
But nobody really expected his obscenely racist supporters to show up to the polls in such a dramatic fashion.
While that certainly is the easiest explanation, there are several curious aspects of these photos that don’t quite add up. First, one of the signs ties these hooded figures to the New England Benevolent Police Association (an organization that recently endorsed Donald Trump) and not the Ku Klux Klan. The NEBPA, however, stated in a press release that they condemned the photos and were not associated with the people pictured:
“Racism and hate has no place in civilized society and those who hide under a hood, behind a mask, or under a sheet are nothing short of cowardice. Yet, this type of grossly inappropriate behavior is being depicted in either photo shopped or unauthorized pictures of the KKK, in which they falsely claim its support of both the NEPBA and the Donald J Trump presidential campaign, which is being disseminated on social media outlets by those of Occupy Democrats.
The New England PBA will not tolerate bigotry, racism or hate nor will we condone or support groups, like the KKK, which historically accept and encourage this type of wanton behavior. Furthermore, we demand those responsible for these grossly inaccurate images cease and desist from disseminating or utilizing the name of the New England Police Benevolent Association (NEPBA), but like Dr. King, we will not be intimidated nor will be bullied because of our support of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America.
The NEPBA categorically denies and refutes any reference to those depicted in these pictures as supporters, members, or in any way associated with the New England Police Benevolent Association or our affiliates.
While there are several photos of these alleged Klan members circulating around the internet, they gave no definitive ideas of either the individuals’ motivations (were they serious or satirical?) or their backgrounds. Regardless, several people used the photos as proof that not only were these alleged Klansmen black, but that they were members of the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, there was no validity to the theories that the two people dressed in Klan outfits were black or (by extension) members of Black Lives Matter. We spoke to Capt. Ken Young of the Clark County Public Schools Police Department on 25 February 2016. He confirmed to us that the two individuals were white males, and that they left the school as soon as police arrived and told them that they had to go.
“Photos” that were circulating of one of the purported black men in the KKK outfit were actually stills or screenshots from a popular Dave Chappelle skit called “Blind Supremacy”: