Vance County Woman Speaks Out Against KKK Phone Listing
Posted January 24, 2006
VANCE COUNTY, N.C. — The last listing you would probably expect to find in a local phone book is the Ku Klux Klan. But in Vance County, open the book and it's right there. Now, a local woman is fighting back, and her protest is bringing an even more disturbing response.
Sara Coffey, who owns a private detective and bail bond agency, found herself the target of the local chapter of the KKK after she expressed her opinion that the chapter's entry should be removed from the listings of the local telephone directory.
"Now I see that if someone stands up against this racially biased group, that this is what can happen, you can be targeted," said Coffey.
Last year, Coffey wrote the
Henderson Daily Dispatch
, suggesting that racial harmony would improve if the KKK Hotline were removed from the listings. For several days afterward, the outgoing recorded message on the hotline was a direct attack on Coffey. The recording claimed her efforts to enhance minority businesses would benef her bail bond business and would lead to a higher crime rate.
The KKK Hotline is run from the home of Howard Bobbitt, the Grand Wizard of the local Klan chapter. He refused an on-camera interview, but told WRAL from his home in Franklin County that Coffey attacked first. He also said the issue between Coffey and the Klan had been blown out of proportion.
Coffey took the matter to the City Council and Mayor Clem Seifert.
"This is a country built on freedom of speech and the Constitution, and while we all agree that kind of speech is not what I would do or what you would do and it's something we don't want in this town, it's tough about what we can actually do about it," said Seifert.
Seifert hopes the City/County Human Relations Commission will find a solution. In the meantime, the KKK now has moved onto another topic on its hotline.
"Hail victory and white power," said the hotline's latest message.
Coffey said she expects an update on her complaint in about two weeks.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says there are an estimated 37 hate groups in the state of North Carolina. Thirty-one support white supremacist beliefs. There are several groups within this category. There are also six black separatist groups.