Posted by: Bill Tracy | February 22, 2013

At the Plantation Door

 

I came upon a small crowd on a Philadelphia center city corner one day in February 2013. They were gathered round staring (and taking pictures) at a man dressed in KKK (Ku Klux Klan) garb, complete with authentic logo. He held a sign depicting an assault rifle and this text:

The KKK Killed 3446 Blacks in 86 Years.

Black on Black Murders Surpass that Number Every 6 Months.

The man in the costume said nothing. He stood on the sidewalk and held his sign. More people, including me, stopped and took pictures. We were there for perhaps 10 minutes; people came and went. There was no conflict of any kind. There was no disruption to the good order of the city.

This took place on a corner where there is an entrance to what looks like an “upscale” shopping mall. I’ve never been in there, but it looks like they want an affluent clientele. Apparently, those who manage the mall saw this unusual occurrence outside on the sidewalk as a threat to their business. I don’t know what they actually thought. It appeared they had not read the message on the sign (or failed to understand it’s intent) and feared the KKK was about to burn a cross in front of the place. Perhaps they have some guilt in their conscience. Anyway, the story unfolded like this:

Standing inches from the street, today's visitor to the plantation carries a message. Black people have to stop killing Black people!

Standing inches from the street, today’s visitor to the plantation carries a message. Black people have to stop killing Black people! This is the scene I came upon.

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Massah and workers showing concern -- armed with radios and prepared to use them.

Massah and workers showing concern — armed with radios and prepared to use them.

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When I began taking pictures, Massah was VERY unhappy. Everyone else was taking pictures with cell phones, but I had a DSLR. He seemed to think I must be taking important pictures.

When I began taking pictures, Massah was VERY unhappy. Everyone else was taking pictures with cell phones, but I had a DSLR. He seemed to think I must be taking important pictures. It’s a common mistake.

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Since I couldn't get an effective picture of the crowd taking pictures of the man with the sign, I had him turn around. When that happened the people all looked at the pictures they had taken and went about the business of sending them to friends, twitter, facebook, etc., etc.

Since I couldn’t get an effective picture of the crowd taking pictures of the man with the sign, I had him turn around. When that happened the people all looked at the pictures they had taken and went about the business of sending them to friends, twitter, facebook, etc., etc.

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With KKK turned around and me taking pictures of him and the crowd, Massah rushes in to stop it. He asks me "Who are you with?" I replied, "I'm Brilliant Bill." He said, "Look, we're trying to get this guy out of here."

With KKK turned around and me taking pictures of him and the crowd, Massah rushes in to stop it. He asks me “Who are you with?” I replied, “I’m Brilliant Bill.” Confounded, he said, “Look, we’re trying to get this guy out of here.”

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Plantation workers do their best to show concern as Massah tries to manage the threat.

Plantation workers do their best to show concern as Massah tries to manage the threat.

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As the plantation visitor moves closer to the corner, Massah shows his consternation.

As the plantation visitor moves closer to the corner, Massah shows his consternation. Perhaps he will cross the street and leave us to our business?

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Finally, Massah confronts the visitor. Words are spoken.

Finally, Massah confronts the visitor. Words are spoken.

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After words were spoken, Massah still does not look happy.

After words were spoken, Massah does not look happy. I’m still taking pictures with that big camera, and he’s still not liking it.

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The “Massah” character in our story is costumed as a janitor or building maintenance worker, complete with a keyring to make a jailer jealous. He actually has a title like “assistant operations manager” or something. Interesting why they sent him out to deal with this situation.

Finally, the KKK character moved up the street, and then there really was “nothing to see here.”

The KKK costumed man, according to one Philadelphia newspaper source, was a local entrepreneur and film maker named Sixx King. One thing he was doing with this demonstration is promoting his new documentary film, Mothers of No Tomorrow, showing how mothers are affected by the loss of children to violent death.

 

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. Does it make me racist Bill? I knew in an instant that the guy in the suit was black. I Googled him just to be sure, but somehow in this day and age in Philadelphia I just knew it was’nt a for real white guy…. Joe

  2. Your photos are great, Brilliant Bill! This is extremely confusing. I think you guessed right, that the building owners did not see the sign (not that it would have cleared things up). They just looked out the window and said “Geez there’s a guy in a KKK outfit out there – send a white guy to throw da bum out!” That’s why the black front staff is doing nothing but looking on. Also they are not dressed for roughhousing.
    But, why didn’t they call the cops? Maybe they did and the cops wouldn’t come.
    Do you think the building owners do not have the right to clear the entrance to their building? I think they may have some responsibility there to their tenants. I know they are supposed to clear sidewalks in ice and snow. I have to say I don’t think from the photos and narrative that the building engineer was acting like a “Massah” but I wasn’t there. I bet the guy said, please keep it away from the entrance or something. And I would look mad too if I got stuck with talking to an attention-seeker weirdo.
    To me, this went down a lot more cordially than if the cops had been called, but maybe I’ve seen to many videos of cops interacting with their public.

  3. Great article as always and super photo journalism. What a wonderful job you do on diverse and very interesting subjects. Always gets me thinking!

  4. Hey “Brilliant Bill”. Love the article! Crazy!

  5. I’m glad you were there, Bill. As for the job title of the Liberty Shops employee in question, you shouldn’t have to guess. You’ve got his ID badge in two pictures at least.


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