The Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) was formed in 1985 and is an outgrowth of the racist White Citizens’ Council (WCC) movement that organized to oppose desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s. The White Citizens’ Council attracted nearly one million members by eschewing the overt racism of the Ku Klux Klan and relying on connections to powerful individuals such as bankers, newspaper editors, and politicians to organize in defense of segregation.
The group is currently led by Gordon Lee Baum (a former White Citizens Council organizer) and is based in St. Louis. The CofCC has built its membership in part from old mailing lists from the White Citizens’ Councils and by appealing to conservatives by organizing around contentious issues such as affirmative action, immigration, and gun control. Like the White Citizen’s Councils, it maintains racist views with its “statement of principles” including:
- The belief that “the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character”
- Opposition to immigration from “non-European and non-Western peoples” as it “threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime.”
- An opposition to “all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.”
- Opposition to “multiculturalist” or “Afrocentric” curricula in schools.
- The CofCC is also opposed to homosexuality which it views as a “perversion” and holds a patriarchal view of women.
The group has had success in attracting an audience of conservative politicians, with the group attracting mainstream attention in 1998 when it was revealed that Republican Representative Bob Barr and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had attended and given speeches at CofCC events. Despite the attention given to the CofCC’s racist views, the group continues to attract Republican politicians. In 2006, CNN talk show host Lou Dobbs used a graphic from the Council of Conservative Citizens.
Activities in West Michigan / Michigan
- On August 4, 2007, the Michigan Counciil of Conservative Citizens held a statewide confernece in Lansing featuring prominent racist speakers including Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, Canadian racist/facist Paul Fromm, and Wayne Lutton an editor at the Michigan-based Social Contract Press and a member of the national Council of Conservative Citizens board.
- In May of 2007, the Michigan Counciil of Conservative Citizens held an anti-immigration demonstration in Lansing. The demonstration was unannounced and attendance was limited.
- In January of 2007, Michigan Council of Conservative Citizens leader John Raterink discussed the CofCC’s role in the passage of Proposal 2 on the Tennessee based radio show, The Political Cesspool. The show has featured a variety of racists in the past.
- Shortly after the November 7 election, the Council claimed that there organization played a “vital role” in the passage of Proposal 2. Their assertions correctly identify the fact that racist groups such as the CofCC and the Ku Klux Klan were the only groups publicly supporting the Prosposal.
- Organizers with the Council attended the founding meeting of the European American Association, an event open to “all white nationalists.” Racists from around the state attended the event which was addressed by Canadian neo-nazi Paul Fromm.
- In October of 2006, the Council launched a letter writing campaign in support of Proposal 2 (the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative). Letters were printed in the Grand Rapids Press and the Battle Creek Enquirer by CofCC leader John Raterink. Both papers failed to note Raterink’s racist ties.
- In July of 2006, the Michigan chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens held an “anti-affirmative action” rally in Jackson, Michigan. The CofCC was met by a group of protestors of equal numbers and the CofCC essentially failed to voice their support of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) in public.
- In May of 2006, the Michigan chapter of the Council of Conservatives held an “anti-immigration” rally in Grand Rapids. Participants at the rally held signs reading “Amnesty? No Way Jose” and “Illegals are Criminals.” There were also members of the Minutemen and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in attendance.
- On July 3, 2005, the group held a picnic for “members and their families” in Nashville, Michigan.
Leaders, Members, and Others Associated with the Organization
The leader of the Michigan chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens is John Raterink of Caledonia, Michigan. In addition to his work with the Michigan CofCC, Raterink spoke at the Council’s 2006 convention and maintains the Council of Conservative Citizens’ online store. Raterink has been associated with the racist National Alliance.