Washington -- Former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke on Friday launched a civil rights group for whites, saying they face "massive discrimination" from the nation's growing population of minorities.
"European Americans must band together as a group the same way African Americans do, the same way other minorities do," Duke told reporters at the National Press Club. He announced formation of the National Organization for European American Rights.
About 75 organizers of the new group, which will be based in Mandeville, Louisiana, plan to meet Saturday in Philadelphia, and Duke said there are already member representatives in 30 states.
"European Americans face a situation where we're going to be outnumbered and outvoted in our own country," said Duke, who is chairman of the Republican Party in Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish.
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that non-Hispanic whites will drop from 72 percent of the total population in 1999 to 53 percent by the year 2050 as immigration increases and the population of minorities grows more rapidly than whites.
"I guarantee there are many European Americans who are refugees in our own cities," Duke said during the news conference, where he lashed out at what he called biased treatment in favor of blacks, Hispanics, Jews and homosexuals. "We like our values. We like our culture. We want to preserve it."
Ken Jacobson, assistant national director for the Anti-Defamation League, called Duke's announcement a transparent effort by "a leading racist and hater" to recast himself as a civil rights leader. "This is just one more manifestation in a different guise," Jacobson said. "He may not have his robe on and he may not have his mask on but it's the same old David Duke."
This is not Duke's first time starting an organization geared towards whites. After resigning in 1978 as national director of the Knights of Ku Klux Klan, Duke formed the National Association for the Advancement of White People. He left that organization in 1989 when he was elected to Louisiana's House of Representatives.
Low white birth rates, interracial marriages and immigration rates were the cited by Duke as key factors reducing the white share of the population. Affirmative action and immigration are two issues the group will tackle, Duke said, adding that a team of lawyers was being assembled.
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