In 1976 at Camp Pendleton, a group of 14 black Marines burst into a room where they believed a meeting of active duty Ku Klux Klan members was being held.
At the time, KKK members operated in the open at Pendleton, wearing KKK logos and posting flyers about chapter meetings around the base. They attacked the Marines they found inside only to discover that they’d barged into the wrong room, and that the KKK members they’d intended to confront were in the next room. 13 of the black Marines involved ended up in jail, one of them ended up testifying against the others.
Fast forward more than four decades to 2019 and the Marines have since banned membership in extremist or supremacist groups. However, the issue of white supremacy among active duty members of the military is still visible. An active duty Marine took part in the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia over the summer of 2017 and was eventually court martialed after ProPublica reported that he had attacked a transgender counter-protester during the rally and then bragged about it on social media.
Just how big a problem does white supremacy remain on military bases and within the ranks of America’s military today? And what is contributing to the renewed urgency surrounding the issue? What are the branches of the military doing to address this issue?
Today on AirTalk, KPBS military reporter and “Free the Pendleton 14” podcast host Steve Walsh joins guest host Libby Denkmann to talk about his reporting on the story, the creation of the podcast and why this issue remains an important one to highlight.
With guest host Libby Denkmann