3 August 1984: Ku Klux Klan violence and state complicity in the southern states of the US.
Forty years ago, the Ku Klux Klan and its affiliated groups were responsible for numerous murderous attacks on left-leaning organisations and black people in the US’s southern states. This report of 1984 by Vron Ware, written in the language of earlier times, details some of the atrocities – drive-by shootings and bombings – and the failure of ensuing prosecutions. Ware addressed the problem of government collusion: FBI agents and other federal officials had infiltrated the KKK and Nazi groups but frequently played an active role in the violence rather than a preventative one. State authorities, keen to stop the extent of their complicity becoming known, ensured that the terms of prosecution against the perpetrators were limited and that juries were all-white.
On 3 November 1979, five members of the Communist Workers Party were killed and seven wounded when a group of 40 Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party members fired at an anti-Klan rally organised by the CWP at Greensboro, North Carolina. Despite evidence on film that shows the racists methodically removing guns from their cars and shooting at the demonstration, a state trial in 1980 and a federal trial, which ended in April, resulted in acquittals. Both trials involved the familiar catalogue of all-white juries, unenthusiastic prosecution and allegations of a government cover-up.
After the second acquittal was announced on 16 April, Dale Sampson, widow of one of the murdered anti-racists, said: “this is a real go-ahead for the Klan and Nazis to kill people”. But while racists celebrated what Nazi leader Harold Covington called “a victory for White America”, the Greensboro Civil Rights Fund has been preparing for the next, and possibly most significant court case. Relatives and survivors have filed a …read more
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