Racism is thriving throughout the state, representatives of 22 Northern California chapters of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People were told at a conference in San Jose. "This may be a liberal state, but the (Ku Klux) Klan is here," Thordie Ashley, director of the NAACP's racism task force said. "Some people might think they are just in Georgia, but the Confederates moved out to California after the Civil War and they have a headquarters in Northern California." DeWitt Bussey, vice chairman of the task force, said law enforcement officials often are reluctant to admit racial connections with violent episodes. According to Ashley, it's best to recognize racism and deal with it openly, adding that "I find that when you focus on groups like the Klan, they usually go underground very quickly."