The Missouri-based Council of Conservative Citizens condemns the shooting deaths in Charleston
However, the council stands behind its assertion that white people in U.S. are under attack
Leaders of the organization cited in Dylann Roof’s alleged manifesto defend many of his ideas as legitimate, though they condemn last week’s shooting in Charleston.
The core principles of the Missouri-based Council of Conservative Citizens mirror many of the sentiments within a racist manifesto believed to have been authored by Roof, such as beliefs that the white race is under attack and that black-on-white crimes largely go unreported.
“The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. … At this moment I realized that something was very wrong,” the online manifesto allegedly written by Roof says.
The council’s website contains pages tallying the number of whites murdered by blacks in the United States and others that describe various racially charged crimes and issues. The organization’s statement of principles further outlines an opposition to “all efforts to mix the races of mankind” and argues the United States “should remain European in their composition and character.”
Jared Taylor, a spokesperson for the Council of Conservative Citizens, spoke to CNN from his home in northern Virginia, where he has numerous Confederate war bonds and a small Confederate flag serving as decorations.
Taylor told CNN that his organization has “no direct connection” to Roof.
“He has never been a member, that’s confirmed. And none of our members, so far as I know, has ever had any contact with him,” Taylor said.
Taylor told CNN that his organization does not take responsibility for the shooting and condemned the violent act by Roof.
‘What he did is absolutely horrible’
“What he did is absolutely horrible,” Taylor said. “I don’t think anyone on the council would dream about supporting such as thing. We have always encouraged active political involvement, speech, but absolutely no violence, no law breaking.”
Taylor defended what Roof may have learned from the council’s website, however, explaining that Roof would have seen information supporting the group’s belief that whites are under siege and being attacked in violent crimes in the United States.
“What Dylann Roof learned were facts, facts that are hard to find because they are essentially taboo in the United States today. So we have absolutely no apology for publishing the facts,” Taylor told CNN.
Founded in 1985, the Council of Conservative Citizens stems from groups known as known as White Citizens Councils, which fought against school desegregation in the 1950s and ’60s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The SPLC identifies the council as a hate group that denigrates nonwhite races.
Though the council once had about 15,000 members, the group’s annual conference in 2013 had about 75 attendants, according to the SPLC.
The council’s current president, Earl Holt III, released a statement saying his organization does not advocate for illegal activities, but Holt said he is not surprised Roof credits the council in his apparent manifesto.
Council: Media obscures race of black offenders
“The CofCC website exists because media either ‘spike’ such stories, or intentionally obscure the race of black offenders,” Holt said.
Holt has donated thousands of dollars in political contributions to Republicans, including donations to candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum in previous elections, according to federal filings.
Spokespersons for the candidates said the Holt contributions would be given to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, which assists families of the Charleston victims.
Kyle Rogers, who manages the council’s website, also runs a flag-selling website with products including Confederate flags, white Rhodesian flags and other flags associated with segregation.
Rogers previously called the council’s followers to “always be on the offensive” when talking to the “left wing.”
Rogers refused to comment for this story.
The Council of Conservative Citizens is just one of 19 groups in South Carolina tracked by the SPLC for white-supremacist activity.
Robert Whitaker, a white nationalist blogger in South Carolina who runs another group tracked by the SPLC, WhitakerOnline, warns a “white genocide” is underway in the United States and elsewhere because of immigration and policies promoting diversity.
Whitaker told CNN the actions of Dylann Roof are intolerable, but he says so are other shootings where blacks kill whites.
“Like everybody other human being, I don’t like the idea of somebody marching in and shooting people. … So what am I supposed to do about that?” Whitaker told CNN.
CNN’s David Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.