Fbi covert Operations and Suppression of Ku Klux Klan Violence, 1964-1971

Suppressing Racial Unrest and “Potential Violence”

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Suppressing Racial Unrest and “Potential Violence”
COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE also built upon the internal security investigations of 1963-1964 in aimed to prevent more spontaneous white reactions to civil right demonstrations from escalating into civil unrest. FBI executives thus instructed Tampa agents to act to “stifle” mob violence surrounding the desegregation of Polk County schools in 1969.78 After a rally by a militant splinter-Klan called the Knights of the Invisible Empire resulted in interracial confrontation that year, agents used interviews and an informant to purge Klan members and discredit a militant Klansman in that group.79

Bureau executives ordered agents to follow up and determine what “action [was] currently being taken or contemplated” after alerts to local officials about law enforcement officers in the Klan.80

The FBI also provided intelligence to local authorities willing to prevent the Klan from capitalizing on racial strife. In late August 1965, the chief of police in Franklinton Louisiana provided the FBI with license plate numbers for vehicles driven by Klansmen. State police showed up at Klan meetings to demonstrate that they were aware of Klan activities. The presence of State Police, as well as FBI agents who took photographs of Klansmen at desegregation marches and picketing, as well as courthouse voter registration facilities, forced Klansmen to refrain from public intimidation and violence.81

After racial violence occurred near Eatonton Georgia during Labor Day weekend 1970, a local Resident FBI Agent intervened without authority from Headquarters. He conferred with the local police chief, the County sheriff, and the local Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, and urged them to persuade Klansmen to cancel a scheduled Klan rally, “in the interests of public peace and safety.”82 After Baltimore based agents furnished information to the Delaware State Police on a proposed Klan rally, landowners, evidently pressured by police, canceled promises to provide staging grounds.83

The FBI engaged in particularly close cooperation with Baltimore area police agencies.84 Agents provided Maryland authorities with copies of anti-mask laws enacted by other states and a relevant judicial analysis of one such law.85 In response to racist agitation that had provoked racial disturbances, agents provided intelligence that helped authorities secure an injunction against National States Rights Party rallies in city parks.86 Transistion: use SC decision on free speech Members of the American Nazi Party engaged in few significant acts of serious violence. One reason COINTELPRO targeted the group, however, because counter-demonstrators often attacked Nazis during their public rallies, resulting in highly publicized brawls.87

The FBI also attempted to prevent potential violence, investigating Klansmen who sold weapons, engaged in paramilitary training, or acquired explosives.88 A FBI investigation secured one conviction for stealing and passing dynamite, TNT, hand grenades and ammunition to a Klan officer.89 A 1968 FBI raid on a Monroe, Louisiana weapons cache exposed and neutralized a secret terrorist cell, causing friction with less militant Klansmen that fractured the larger organization.90 In 1967, the FBI alerted various military intelligence services, the Secret Service, and the ATTU, that a UKA Klavern near Blemont North Carolina was organizing a gun club. Military authorities advised a local Air National Guard representative, who confirmed the information, recommended that the Army break off association with the club, and provided FBI agents with a club membership list. Agents also sent a fake letter to the NRA from an "outraged citizen" protesting the "backing your organization has given the Klan." The NRA refused to issue a charter for the group.91 A similar operation prevented an "active MM unit" near Jackson Mississippi from obtaining an NRA charter, and thereby increasing in size through legitimation.92 Check docs for quote

In late 1966, Miami agents targeted a "tough Klan unit which must be exposed in order to prevent violence," because several individuals with criminal records had joined it. They circulated a fake leaflet to provoke bickering Klansmen, causing resignations, and, within six months, neutralization of all Klavern activity.93 In 1967, the Miami field office could report that the area had "been reduced to a non-violent status."94

Cleveland agents worked to expel a Klan leader who advocated creating an action group to assault and kill African Americans.95 Counterintelligence and FBI informants caused banishment of two Dillon Georgia officers and the dissolution of their Klavern,96 which causing great dissention but also raised the possibility that a militant might take advantage of infighting to “intensify activity.”97 To prevent this, agents framed him as an informant in a fake note to the Grand Dragon,98 who soon fired him.99 COINTELPRO also neutralized one of the most effective Klan organizers of the 1960s, Marshall Kornegay, a militant who advocated violence and threatened law enforcement authorities.100

Some evidence exists that the FBI warned a number of civil rights activists about Klan plots on their lives.101 provided warning of plans for Lauderdale County Klan beating of COFO worker in Meridian MS area, whose “way [of] acting” at a Meridian junior college dedication ceremony had angered Klansmen.102

Internicine fights within the Klan, however, were viewed as successes. When internecine violence broke out within and between white supremacists groups, FBI agents viewed this as a positive result, and endeavored to further aggravate factionalism.103 ADD? INSERT NC After COINTELPRO split the South Carolina Realm, leaving FBI informants in positions of power,104 FBI agents instructed them “take advantage of friction between the two groups.”105 Enmity turned violent at September 1970 rally, when one Klansman shot and killed a member of the other faction.106 Despite this, FBI agents continued to “guide . . . informants to take advantage of any friction between the groups.”107

Relationships between Covert Action and Criminal Prosecution

Information acquired through FBI intelligence operations as well as courtroom testimony from FBI agents and FBI informants enabled convictions in four high-profile cases where Klansmen had escaped conviction for murder in Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama. Search Bombings also, in McComb etc 108 FL Bombs and criminal cases.

A tip from witnesses, combined with informant confirmation of the perpetrator identities, enabled FBI arrests for a January 1965 dual car bombing in New Bern, North Carolina. Guilty pleas created significant factional infighting and led to formation of a splinter group.109 A FBI investigation secured the conviction of Michigan Grand Dragon Robert Miles and four other Klansmen for dynamiting and destroying ten school busses in 1971.110

A special squad of thirty FBI agents launched an intense criminal investigation of nightriding activity in the North Carolina counties of Mecklenburg, Rowan, and Cabarrus counties during 1965-Fall 1966. Interviews of "all known members" of the Charlotte and Mount Holly Klaverns, between November 1965 and April 1966.111 At the conspiracy trial, Concord Klansman Robert Hill, who became an informant the FBI in January 1967and pled guilty, linked a State Klan officer an a county sheriff to the terrorist campaign. Although no other convictions were obtained, fallout over funding the defense led to dissention. Convictions were obtained in Alamance County however, enabling the development of a very disruptive informant, discussed below.112

After the FBI “fed” information acquired by an informant, to a local Sheriff’s office near Slidell Louisiana, two Klansmen were arrested on charges of kidnapping.113 Klavern membership dropped off once a Klansmen turned states evidence in the resulting flogging case, confirmed that two church arsons had been committed by his associates, and testified about Klan violence before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), providing the names of Klavern officers.114

After learning the identity of Klansmen who had sprayed acid on cars in black neighborhoods one-year earlier, New Orleans agents informed a local sheriff.115 Klan leaders admonished that Klansmen “must not let law enforcement authorities try to scare Klansmen out of the Klan” and thereby “break up” the organization, but pressure from the sheriff’s office and the FBI won out. Believing that the sheriff’s office had bugged Klan meetings, one leader advised Klansmen to “slow down their activities for a few weeks.”116

Bureau executives were careful to postpone or cancel COINTELPRO operations, so that they would not interfere with ongoing criminal investigations.117 During periods between indictment and trial in federal prosecutions, the FBI continued to refrain from covert operations against defendants. Covert action against the Minutemen, a paramilitary anticommunist group, was put on hold once the Treasury Department secured indictments of the group’s leaders for conspiracy to violate the Federal Firearms Act.118 During the Federal Civil-Rights trial arising from the killing of Mississippi civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer, the FBI temporarily suspended counterintelligence against White Knights Imperial Wizard Samuel Bowers and other defendants, "so as not to jeopardize chances for their conviction and prejudice the government's case."119

After a “high level” Klan informant implicated Illinois Grand Dragon Turner H. Cheney in a series of bombings that had hit in Milwaukee Wisconsin in August 1966, the FBI launched an intelligence investigation and provided local authorities with enough information for an indictment. Infighting after his conviction “halted” the “expansion” of the Klan in Illinois, eventually leading to a takeover by the Klan’s national office.120 As Bureau agents continued to monitor the group’s activities “to control any possible threat,”121 the group remained relatively inactive.122

From a counterintelligence standpoint, successful criminal prosecutions not only neutralized the activities of defendants; they served to discredit the Klan organizations with which accused Klansmen were affiliated. FBI executives reasoned that:
since the Klan is just getting organized in Ohio, it is an excellent time to discredit it with Federal prosecution of some of its members. It would also be an extremely disruptive measure for the Klan and its potentially dangerous members in Georgia. A Federal Grand Jury indictment . . . and the attendant publicity resulting in a large-scale arrest of Klansmen in Georgia and Ohio would undoubtedly have a most salutary effect against the NKKKK and the UKA.123
Convictions would be published through "friendly press contacts," so as to work "to the detriment of the Klan and the Klan's reputation."124

Directory: drabbs
drabbs -> But Klansmen whipped a Columbus County woman in 1951
drabbs -> With the complicity of
drabbs -> The fbi, cointelpro-white hate, and the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina, 1964-1971
drabbs -> 2 From October 1871 into 1873, mass arrests and federal prosecutions “broke the back of the Ku Klux Klans” after which Southern violence took on new form
drabbs -> Tennessee was traditionally moderate on racial issues, reacting to
drabbs -> 2 From October 1871 into 1873, mass arrests and federal prosecutions “broke the back of the Ku Klux Klans” after which Southern violence took on new form
drabbs -> The fbi, cointelpro-white hate and the Decline of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in Mississippi, 1964-1971
drabbs -> Chapter ? ‘A negative and Unwise Approach’: Private Detectives, Vigilantes and the fbi counterintelligence, 1910-1972

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