Former KKK Leader And His Mother Indicted After Alabama Cross Burning

A 28-year-old alleged “former Exalted Cyclops” of the Ku Klux Klan and his mother have both been arrested and are facing federal charges relating to a 2009 cross burning in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Ozark, Ala. 

Steven Joshua Dinkle was arrested in Mississippi on Wednesday for allegedly orchestrating the cross burning and obstructing the ensuing investigation, according to a press release sent out Friday by the Department of Justice. Dinkle was described by the DOJ as having previously held the “Exalted Cyclops” title in an Ozark, Ala. chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Dinkle “conspired with another person to burn a cross in an African-American neighborhood to threaten and intimidate residents of that neighborhood and thereby interfere with their federally protected housing rights” on May 8, 2009, the Justice Department alleges.  

“Dinkle allegedly constructed a six-foot cross, wrapping jeans and a towel around it.  He and his co-conspirator drove the cross to an African-American community near Johntown Road in Ozark where Dinkle poured fuel on the cross, erected it in the ground and set it on fire,” the DOJ press release said. “The indictment further contends that Dinkle obstructed justice by lying to local investigators in 2009, and federal investigators in 2012. Dinkle claimed he had withdrawn from the KKK months before the cross burning, provided a false alibi and denied knowing a person who was, in fact, his superior in the KKK.”

Dinkle’s mother, Pamela Morris, who the DOJ described as “the former secretary of the KKK chapter” was arrested on Nov. 21 and charged with committing perjury before the grand jury investigating the cross burning. In an indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on November 14, federal prosecutors said Morris “knowingly made false material declarations when she denied being involved in the Ku Klux Klan” and when she denied being aware of her son’s KKK involvement. Morris has entered a not guilty plea in the case.

According to the DOJ, Dinkle was charged on five counts in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama including; “one count of conspiracy to violate housing rights, one count of criminal interference with the right to fair housing, one count of using fire to commit a federal felony and two counts of obstruction of justice.” As of this writing, documents from Dinkle’s case were not posted on the court’s website and the federal prosecutor’s office was unable to provide them. 

On Facebook, a page matching Dinkle’s name and listing his hometown as Skipperville, Ala., includes links to footage of Klan rallies, an informational page about the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan from the website of the anti-KKK Southern Poverty Law Center, and multiple links to a speed dating site. A photo posted among the profile pictures on the page in October 2011 shows a tattoo of the KKK blood drop cross logo. In comments posted on the page, its owner used the phrase “white power,” typed racial slurs, and alluded to unspecified legal problems. 

“fucking warrents,” he wrote in 2011 (sic).

Read the full indictment against Morris below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK