When Liz Hayes met America’s White supremacists things got heated.

The day after Donald Trump became President of the United States on January 20, a wave of hate crimes swept over the country.

Within his first month of office The Southern Poverty Law Center had catalogued 1064 such incidents, compiled from a mixture of media reports and tip-offs, and only 13 turned out to be false – 26 were carried out against Trump supporters.

Hate groups have also swelled, with membership of the Ku Klux Klan growing on a daily basis.

On Sunday 60 Minutes presenter Liz Hayes went deep into “Klan country” in America’s mid-west to find out why.

KKK member Will Quigg. Source: 60 Minutes.

"Donald Trump has been a big gain in our membership," California Grand Dragon Will Quigg explained on the Channel 9 program.

"People have found out through Donald Trump that you can say what you want to say and get away with it, I mean, it's not a bad thing to say, 'yes, I'm white and I'm proud'."

Even so, he acknowledged the Republican could not openly support the group because of their violent history.

"He can't [support us] ... After 150 years the knights of Ku Klux Klan are still considered a hate group," Quigg said.

"We are a Christian group, we do not hate. If you hate somebody - like the Klan has a background of going and beating up negroes, hanging them from the trees, burning crosses in their yards - we do not do that today.

"We are here to help people, mainly our own race, yes, but Trump has made it easier for us to say what we want to say and he has brought a lot of new members into the ranks of the knights of the Ku Klux Klan."

Quigg said he'd had inquiries about joining his group from people as young as 16, although they only accept people over 18.

"They come from all walks of life; metal workers, farm workers, lawyers, policemen ... we do have high ranking officials in the Ku Klux Klan," he said.

"With Donald Trump as our President, it has given the white people, especially the white Christian people, a voice."


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Someone with a strong voice is founder of American Renaissance Jared Taylor, and while he doesn't associate with the white supremacist group, his concerns strongly echo the sentiments of its members.

"That is Donald Trump's great achievement, to have been the standard bearer, even if unconsciously, of white interests," he told Hayes in what quickly became a heated interview.

"I speak the truth no matter who is listening," the Yale graduate said, adding he didn't want America to become a "third world extension".

"I'm coming from the fact that I do not wish to become a minority," he said.

Among the many people Hayes met, there was one who offered some hope, Arno Michaelis.

Once the founding member of the world's largest racist skinhead group when Michaelis became a father, a switch flipped in his head - and his heart. 

"When I was in hate groups I would say I absolutely hate because I love my race so much.

"I think it's essentially a fear of change, which is a really common aspect of the human condition."

You can watch more snippets from the episode on the 60 Minutes website.