After his comments sparked outrage among some, actor Adam Driver is standing by his childhood recollection of seeing Ku Klux Klan rallies in his home state of Indiana.
In an interview with Deadline while promoting his Spike Lee film, BlacKkKlansman, Driver admits the backlash he received for his initial comments detailing how he grew up seeing rallies in his neighborhood was quite perplexing.
"I have to be clear about this, actually, because I said this before, and then there was a whole thing around it," Driver said of the incident. "I was confused about the kind of dialogue that happened the last time."
The "whole thing" Driver is referring to was a report from the Indianapolis Star that rounded up local historians and professors who were casting doubt on Driver's claims with their own take on history after he shared with USA Today how he witnessed them "every summer" and knew of "people in the Klan" in his neighborhood of Mishawaka.
Shortly after the report, the South Bend Tribune debunked the Indy Star's theories and speculations, by citing their own research, detailing how the Klan were frequently in the pages of The Tribune and on the airwaves of local television stations during the timeline Driver grew up around in the early '90s.
Proven right, Driver was astonished at the rebuttal, telling Deadline that he stands by his recollection and further admits how he knew people involved in the KKK.
"There was a friend I had, growing up in Indiana, where his dad was very much involved, and they lived down the street from us," Driver said. "And it's something I didn't really know about until [I saw] this guy more. I don't see him anymore; they're not a part of my life."
Driver adds that despite that, there was always a constant Klan presence in the area.
"And, I'm talking like once a year. I wouldn't go to these events — I feel like it was [in] Granger or South Bend," he recollects. "Sometimes, it was more official, and sometimes it was less on the grid. There was kind of a constant presence of this group, and because you're raised with it, it becomes this thing…I never understood it then, and I moved to Indiana from California, so I was already in the middle of a culture shock. Not to paint Indiana with this brush of, 'The entire state is racist,' because it's not."
During the time Driver, then 7 years old, moved from California to Mishawaka, the Tribune states how less than year-and-a-half later, six men attacked a black couple and their infant in South Bend, shouting "We are the Ku Klux Klan." The men were later sent to prison for the crimes, with the case garnering news coverage.
A year later, four white men claiming affiliation with a group called the White Brotherhood set out to rob a black woman in the city, who was later killed. That incident drew widespread media coverage as well.
With regards to rallies like Driver speaks of, Tribune archives show at least five KKK rallies between the years 1993 and 2001 in the cities of Knox, Goshen, Elkhart and South Bend. That is not counting the two KKK protests in Goshen in during May and June of 1998, which started after a white student was told remove a shirt with an offensive racial slur.
Driver can be currently seen in the Golden Globe-nominated, Spike Lee joint, BlacKkKlansman, based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado who successfully infiltrates the Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate, that surprisingly becomes its leader.
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