Fruitland Park, Fla. — Residents of this small town have been stunned by an investigative report linking two city police officers with the Ku Klux Klan, the secret hate society that once was violently active in the area.
The violence against African-Americans that permeated the area was more than 60 years ago, when the place was more rural and the main industry was citrus. These days, the community of less than 5,000 residents northwest of Orlando has been infused by the thousands of wealthier, more cosmopolitan retirees in the area. Those who live in the bedroom community, which is less than 10 percent black, have reacted not only with shock, but disgust that officers could be involved with the Klan, the mayor said.
“I’m shocked, very shocked,” said Chery Mion, who works in a Fruitland Park gift shop next door to the mayor’s office. “I didn’t think that organization was still around. Yes, in the 1950s. But this 2014, and it’s rather disconcerting to know.”