Is the ‘Ku Klux Klowns’ Lynching Display an Effective Protest?

An art collective created the display in “protest of white nationalist uprising in the United States.”


INDECLINE, an activist artist collective, created eight Ku Klux Klan effigies wearing clown costumes underneath KKK robes and hanged them from a single tree in Richmond’s Joseph Bryan Park to protest white supremacy. An effigy wore a placard that read: “If Attacked By a Mob of Clowns, Go for the Juggler.”

Richmond, Va., police closed the park for three hours Thursday morning and removed the effigies, according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch. The Richmond Police Department said in a statement that they are investigating the display and no arrests have been made. The department did not indicate whether laws were violated.

INDECLINE states on its website that it is not an anarchist group, but rather an American activist collective comprised of graffiti writers, photographers, filmmakers and “full-time rebels and activists.”

The group, founded in 2001, says it focuses on “social, ecological and economical injustices carried out by American and International governments, corporations and law enforcement agencies.”

During the 2016 presidental election, the group was responsible for placing statues of a naked Donald Trump in large cities around the country, including Los Angeles and New York.

INDECLINE said the following about what it refers to as the “Ku Klux Klowns” installation:

“It was conceptualized in the spring of 2017 in protest of the white nationalist uprising in the United States. The activation was carried out in Richmond, Va., chosen for its infamous legacy of being the capitol of the Confederate South. It was executed in what is today known as Joseph Bryan Park, the same location of the Gabriel Prosser slave rebellion in 1800.”

Gabriel, also known as Gabriel Prosser, was a literate, enslaved blacksmith who attempted to lead a slave rebellion in 1800 in the Richmond area, but the plan was toppled by betrayal within his camp. As a result, Gabriel, his brothers and 23 slaves were hanged. His plan was the first major slave plot that took place in the 19th century.

The “Ku Klux Klowns” display comes almost one month after the KKK and other white supremacist groups, including neo-Nazis, held a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., which turned deadly.

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INDECLINE posted a YouTube video on Thursday showing the preparation of the effigies leading up to four masked men dressed in black hanging them in the park overnight. The audio includes snippets from a 1940s “Superman” radio show, “The Clan of the Fiery Cross,” in which the superhero battles the KKK, combined with excerpts from the Klan anthem.

In a statement, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s press secretary, Jim Nolan, said, “There are many ways to express a point of view. As a city we don’t condone breaking the law to do so.”

James “J.J.” Minor, president of the Richmond branch of the NAACP, does not condone the display.

“When you look at something like that, whether you consider it art or not art, lynching is not something that we’re in agreement with at all,” Minor told the Richmond-Times Dispatch. “We do not support any groups that support violence.”

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Bernice Travers, president of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, the city’s oldest African American voter advocacy organization, told the Dispatch that what INDECLINE “does not understand is the pain Black people endured then, and still feel today, about hangings.”

An anonymous INDECLINE member told a Richmond NBC News affiliate that its displays are not “baseless, infantile vandalism” but have a “deeper meaning.” The intent of the group’s displays is to spark conversation and take power away from the white supremacist movement by making fun of it.

“We are hoping to dismantle this movement,” the member said.

The member also said the group wanted the initial feeling when seeing the “Ku Klux Klowns” display to be “overwhelming,” serving as a reminder of how African Americans were persecuted in the past.

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  • Can you define what “White Nationalist Uprising” we are experiencing? We have had a few demonstrations by a small group of idiots. That does not constitute an uprising. Please don’t refer to the election of President Trump. He is doing nothing more than trying to enforce our current immigration and border laws.

    • He retweeted neo Nazi tweets, he said there are “very fine people” amongst the neo Nazi/white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville – he’s the kind of person David Duke has no problem supporting.

      This, in turn, has caused the greatest revival of neo Nazi, neo Confederate and white supremacist groups since the 1960s.

    • You are so wrong. His entire campaign inflamed and condoned violence and hatred. His “Make America Great Again” said to all racists we should rid this country of people that do not look like or think as we do. His recollections were of the past when Caucasians had more control in a country they consider belongs only to them. If we were bordered with France, Italy or any of the European countries there would not be this outcry of border laws. Stop posting comments as though all Americans are backward imbeciles. When a man can walk into a church of worship, pretend to pray with others and then stand and murder innocent people that is a uprising. When you see nooses on college campuses, that is an uprising. When you see racists marching in the streets screaming to keep monuments of yesterdays that promoted division and hatred in the country; that is an uprising. Private meetings promoting bigotry and hatred towards others is an uprising. Trump surrounded himself with bigots, like him, to do his deeds.

    • If you want Trump eliminated from the comment, then there is no comment. He is the problem,

  • Well, your publication gave indecline more advertising than they could have ever imagined. Even your title questioning if it was an effective protest gave it more of a platform for others who were dormant but take offense. You will see a rise in membership of these groups and the media has to take a lion’s share of the blame. Ignore the KKK and other groups and they will just go away as a blemish but you are causing the cancer to spread by publishing article after article about them and these clowns who demonstrate their violent and vile views.

      • This country has been ignoring the KKK an can other suck groups for decades and they haven’t gone away yet,. Just went mostly underground. But recent events on the political scene have managed to encourage the vermin to come out from under their rocks and light their torches. Ignoring won’t work!
        Keep in mind that to ignore is ignorance.

        • We agree. They never went away, they learned their beliefs were abhorrent to most Americans, so they went underground. 45 has done more to encourage hate than any president since the horrid racist Woodrow Wilson.

    • You are engaging in the ever-popular practice of attempting a false equivalence. Art does not equal violence. The Nazis, KKK, Alt-Right and other violent White Supremacist hate groups are not going away, but are experiencing a resurgence and committing an epidemic of hate crimes. All that’s necessary for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. INDECLINE is taking a stand, in a very creative, thought-provoking, consciousness-raising, way. INDECLINE is not “the cancer;” the malignant groups it opposes are.

    • This country has been ignoring the KKK an can other suck groups for decades and they haven’t gone away yet,. Just went mostly underground. But recent events on the political scene have managed to encourage the vermin to come out from under their rocks and light their torches. Ignoring won’t work!
      Keep in mind that to ignore is ignorance.

    • That makes total sense, John. Please stop using cancer as an example. When is the last time you heard someone say ignore cancer and it goes away? It doesn’t “go away”, you have fight it, no matter how small the tumor! Why? Because ignored, it usually spreads.

    • Ignoring hate groups ,Akil & Alt Right, only makes you, whites” feel better because you don’t want to deal with the institutionalized racism in this country. BLACK people know we can’t just ignore the KKK NAZI ETC as some fringe group. Pull the hoods off and they are the store clerk down the street, the cab driver, mechanic & Dentist, teacher, lawyer and judge. When they hang YOUR children or shoot them down in the street THEN you can open your mouth about ignoring them

  • As an African American female who is NOT a passive, cowardly Southerner, I believe it’s an effective protest. I got a good laugh out of it: Go for the juggler..FUNNY!

    Burning KKK effigies on a fiery cross would have been even more effective entitled KKKrispy KKKritters.

    • A noose hanging from trees on a college campus where people of various races are there for an education sends chills to many students. This statement of noose, hanging KKK promotes laughter to the fools behind those sheets and go for the jugular is exactly what has to be done. Cowards hide behind sheets. Cowards go to churches and slaughter people that pray.

  • I am a black woman and this gave me chills. Frankly, I noticed the nooses and the hanging bodies before I noticed the hoods, and thought, “What the hell?” I despise any depiction of hangings, and don’t understand how you get beyond the initial reaction to the point. For me, this is not the way.

    • Hanging was a way for capital punish before the advent of devices like “Old Sparky” the electric chair in Florida. Klan hanging is the last thing people in the Hood worry about.

    • True no one should have never been hung from a tree but thousands were and many were gutted to keep slaves in their place. This sends a message — NO MORE!.

  • This was a quick way to shed some light and get a response. they knew that it wouldn’t be up for long but the image would last. the question is what now??? How many people get the message behind the art? Or are we just sickened by the initial response? WE need to channel our over reaction to it into energy to be used to fight the negative power that our president has brought out in our country.


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