Florida cop resigns, another fired after federal probe links them to the KKK
Two police officers are no longer with the Fruitland Park Police Department after a law enforcement report tied them to the Ku Klux Klan, an official said Monday. Deputy Chief David Borst resigned and Officer George Hunnewell was fired last week, for their alleged involvement in the Ku Klux Klan.
Ann Hunnewell, the wife of officer Hunnewell is claiming that she and her husband were ordered to infiltrate the white supremacist group. The woman’s allegations describe the Klan’s initiation ceremony that included kneeling with pillow cases over their heads.
The FDLE report states that Ann Hunnewell told investigators that she was working as a secretary for the Fruitland Park Police Department in 2008 when she and her then-husband George were assigned to an undercover mission by then, Chief James Isom.
“Ann Hunnewell said in 2008 through 2009, she and her ex-husband successfully infiltrated the [United Northern and Southern Knights] chapter of the KKK in an undercover capacity,” the report states. The department had already dismissed an officer in 2009 for being affiliated with the KKK.
It goes on to say that she claimed Isom “received allegations” about officer James Elkins being involved in the KKK and she said Isom “assigned George and Ann Hunnewell to follow up with the matter.”
Ann Hunnewell told investigators that they befriended Elkins and his wife and began exercising and dining with them before James Elkins reportedly asked her husband to join the KKK.
“Ann Hunnewell stated her ex-husband did not share the KKK ideology, but agreed to join in the spirit of the undercover investigation,” the report states.
The former police chief has denied he ordered any such investigation. “At no time did I ever instruct, or have anybody working undercover or infiltrating a Klan organization while I was the chief of police,” Isom said in sworn statement he gave to his successor, current Fruitland Park Police Chief Terry Isaacs. According to Isom’s statement, the men also denied any involvement in the KKK when Elkins was fired in 2009.
Isom reportedly resigned in 2010 after signing a plea deal following a misconduct investigation.
A photo surfaced of Elkins being sworn into the group while surrounded by other members in their infamous white hoods. He was fired on the same grounds that Hunnewell was dismissed five years later, for belonging to a subversive group, which is not illegal but is against the police department’s code of conduct.
Ann Hunnewell described for the FDLE what she said was the KKK’s initiation rite.
“Once in the room, a pillow case was placed over their heads,” Ann Hunnewell said of the induction at the Elkins’ home alongside six to eight others. “As the ceremony began, they were led into the living room and told to kneel. After a reading, their pillow cases were removed from their heads and the ceremony was complete.”
The FDLE report was sparked by a broader FBI investigation and portions were redacted for that reason. Of the readable portions, there are inconsistencies between two of their sources about Borst’s alleged involvement in the KKK. One source said that Borst knew about Hunnewell’s membership and did nothing, while another point in the report suggests that it is unclear if Borst was a sworn member of the group, the report states.
Fruitland Park Has History of KKK Ties
“Florida in general has a fairly large number of hate groups,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that monitors and tracks hate groups. “Once upon a time this was absolutely common. Right up through the 1960s there were very large numbers of police officers who were members of the Klan or largely sympathetic.”
The city of 5,000 residents is located about 40 miles northwest of Orlando.
Fruitland Park, a community of nearly 5,000 people that is almost 90 percent white, lies about 50 miles north of Orlando and is home to a large number of retirees. The city’s website calls itself “The Friendly City,” but there is a history of racial violence, specifically within the citrus industry in the 1940s and 1950s.
Tri County Sentry’s calls to the Ku Klux Klan and the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan went unreturned.