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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 92

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This is the grave of John Galen Locke.

There is only one thing worth knowing about this asshole. He was the Grand Dragon of the Colorado Ku Klux Klan. Locke made Colorado one of the strongest KKK strongholds in the nation in the 1920s, along with Indiana, Oregon, and Texas. The second Klan was reasonably analogous to Trump voters and their values, in that they were anti-black but also anti-changing culture and anything that might make them uncomfortable as middle-class white Protestants, whether Jews or Italians or women voting or alcohol or whatever. Because these people voted, it made local KKK leaders a powerful political block. Locke basically controlled Colorado politics in the 1920s, being the political boss of both the governor and the mayor of Denver. He was also a total hypocrite, having been divorced from a Catholic and employing two Catholic secretaries and even paying their pew fees, all while railing against Catholics in public. In private, he seems to have donated to black and Jewish charities as well. Basically, he saw the KKK as a political machine he could use for his own ends. His bought state legislators introduced legislation to ban public universities from hiring Catholic and Jewish professors and ban sacramental wine from communion ceremonies. Most of it did not pass, as there were enough Democrats and anti-KKK Republicans to narrowly prevent it. They burned a cross in front of the home of the president of the Denver chapter of the NAACP, etc.

Then there is this bizarre 1925 newspaper article about he and others being arrested for kidnapping a guy and forcing him to marry a woman in the KKK offices. Further research suggests it was the son of a hotel worker who got a woman pregnant and wouldn’t marry her. She complained to the KKK. They kidnapped him. Locke put out his surgeon’s tools and said he could marry her or he would castrate the guy. His parents, as you can imagine, complained. The IRS also went after him for not paying income tax. Shocking that a right-wing nutjob wouldn’t pay taxes. He said he lost his books. He was fined $1500 and sentenced to jail for 10 days. As his legal troubles continued, the national KKK forced him to resign as Colorado Grand Dragon and turn over all the KKK property, which was a lot since the Klan’s leadership was corrupt as all hell and looking to get rich. Locke tried starting his own hate organization called the Minute Men (a tried and true name for right wing assholes), but it went nowhere and he died in obscurity in 1935.

Anyway, fuck this guy.

John Galen Locke is buried in Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado.

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