The mere mention of the Ku Klux Klan strikes some Black people with fear even to this very day. Between 1979 and the early 1980s however, a Black police officer went deep undercover and managed to become a member of the hate group.
Sgt. Ron Stallworth, a retired officer who worked in Colorado, lived to tell his incredible tale using some savvy techniques to keep his real identity secret. Stallworth, who now resides in Layton, Utah, worked a yearlong sting on a KKK operation in Colorado Springs. He was able to earn the trust of the group in a series of phone calls and by using his white partner on the force as his stand-in. The Klan never realized the voices weren’t the same.
Stallworth was so convincing that the group’s leader, David Duke, awarded him with a signed membership card. While running the sting, Stallworth learned that the Klan’s planned to intimidate Blacks in Colorado with an old technique – burning crosses.
He also discovered that two of the Klan members worked for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and had high -level access to nuclear weapons. His investigation got those men reassigned, and his information prevented three potential KKK raids.
Stallworth says he was even being considered to lead the KKK in Colorado because in his words, the group saw him as a “good and loyal Klansman.”
A law enforcement veteran with over 30 years of experience, Stallworth is also a noted expert on gang violence and culture. He has written four books on gang culture and also assisted with Utah’s gang task force. His latest book, Black Klansman, tells the full story of his undercover work investigating the KKK.