Only in Florida? Ex-Klan candidate for Lake Wales Mayor denounces racism

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At a candidates’ forum Thursday night, John Paul Rogers, former Florida Grand Dragon of the United Klans of America, publicly condemned racism.

The 70-year-old candidate for Lake Wales mayor read from a prepared statement, thanked the three dozen people assembled, and then left without any further word to constituents or reporters.

During opening comments for the forum at the Lake Wales Public Library, City Commissioner Rogers said he wanted to start by “addressing the elephant in the room.”

Then he quoted the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and endowed “with certain inalienable rights.”

“I would hope that time heals all wounds,” Rogers said, adding that this has not been the case in regard to his past associations. He left the Klan in 1988.

“My actions over the last two decades show I have condemned hate or mistreatment of others,” Rogers read from his statement, adding that he has “never personally condoned or participated in racial violence.”

However, he said, the controversy surrounding his campaign for mayor prompted him to “denounce racism and violence” that may or may not be attributed to the United Klans of America.

He said he hoped “this matter would not be used as a tool of division any further.”

The forum for commission and mayor candidates then continued as scheduled.

Continue reading Phil Attinger’s story here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.