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Ronell Eugene Stallworth (born June 18, 1953) is an American retired police officer who infiltrated the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs in the late 1970s. He was the first African-American police officer and detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. The 2018 film BlacKkKlansman is based on his experience infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. Stallworth was born in Chicago and raised in El Paso, Texas, after his mother moved the family there. "My mother's moving our family to El Paso was the best decision she ever made, as the city was a far cry from the poverty, gangs, and conflict in Chicago's South Side, where I would have come of age if she had not left."
Stallworth as a high-school junior, from his 1970 yearbook
(1953-06-18) June 18, 1953 (age 65)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Known for||Infiltration of the KKK|
|Black Klansman (2014)|
|Department||Colorado Springs Police|
|Civilian police career|
|Department||Utah Public Safety|
Ronell Eugene Stallworth (born June 18, 1953) is an American retired police officer who infiltrated the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs in the late 1970s. He was the first African-American police officer and detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department.
The 2018 film BlacKkKlansman is based on his experience infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan.
Stallworth was born in Chicago and raised in El Paso, Texas, after his mother moved the family there. "My mother's moving our family to El Paso was the best decision she ever made, as the city was a far cry from the poverty, gangs, and conflict in Chicago's South Side, where I would have come of age if she had not left."
Stallworth graduated from Austin High School in 1971, where he was a cheerleader, a member of the student council, and a member of a district-wide advisory board; he was also voted "most popular".
In the summer of 1972, his family moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he first took an interest in a career in law enforcement. Stallworth joined the department as a cadet in November 1972 and was initially assigned to work in the Identifications and Records Bureau.
He quickly developed an interest in undercover police work, which persisted well after he was formally sworn in as an officer in June 1974. After 10 months of uniformed patrol duty, he was offered an undercover assignment to observe a gathering at a local black nightclub, where Stokely Carmichael had been invited to speak. Stallworth accepted the assignment and was transferred to the department's intelligence section afterward.
In 1979, Stallworth noticed a want ad in the local paper seeking members to start a new chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs. Stallworth called the phone number listed, and posed as a racist white man who "hated blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Asians." During the conversation, he learned that the man founding the new chapter was a soldier at nearby Fort Carson. Stallworth arranged to meet the man at a local bar and sent a white undercover narcotics officer, wired to record any conversations, to stand in for him at the meeting.
The subterfuge was a success, and Stallworth continued to pose as a KKK member for the next nine months, usually talking on the phone with other members and sending the white officer in his place when face-to-face meetings were necessary. Stallworth phoned David Duke, who was the Grand Wizard of the KKK at the time, at his headquarters in New Orleans to ask about the status of his membership application. Duke apologized for the delay in getting the application processed and promised to see to it personally that Stallworth's application was processed and sent to him. Within a short time, Stallworth's Klan certificate of membership arrived in the mail, signed by Duke. Stallworth framed the certificate and hung it on the wall of his office, where it stayed for years.
After the investigation into the Klan closed, Stallworth kept it a secret and told no one about his role in it. He transferred to the Utah Department of Public Safety, where he retired in 2005 after working as an investigator for nearly 20 years.
In January 2006, Stallworth gave an interview to the Deseret News of Salt Lake City in which he related the details of his infiltration and investigation of the KKK. He disclosed that the investigation revealed several Klan members were active members of the United States Armed Forces, including two at NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty and protection for Northern America. The pair were reassigned and Stallworth was told that they went to "somewhere like the North Pole or Greenland."
In 2014, Stallworth published a book, Black Klansman, about his experience investigating the KKK. For his source material, he used a casebook that he assembled during the assignment and kept for himself after it was over. The book was taken to QC Entertainment by producer Shaun Redick to make a film based on it called BlacKkKlansman. Spike Lee signed on as co-producer and director. The film was released in 2018, with John David Washington playing the role of Stallworth. BlacKkKlansman won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.