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



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Selective prosecution


In more recalcitrant Southern communities, convincing law enforcement authorities and jurors that Klansmen were criminals ultimately required transforming attitudes about the legitimacy of that vigilantism itself.

Police purge:

June 1967, when informants reported that [9], a Dixie Klan officer had attended meetings in his Sheriff’s uniform. Since [deletion] had previously been advised of this fact but had taken no action, agents leaked this information to a well-trusted source at the Chattanooga Times.146 Both the Times and the Chattanooga Post decried the fact that Sheriff Frank Newell had hired and Exalted Cyclops, and then refused to act once this fact came to public attention.147 In the wake of negative publicity, Sheriff Newell expressed regret over the differences that he had had with FBI officials over use of the FBI lab due to [9]’s employment, and asked the FBI to report to him if [9] was continuing to attend Klan meetings. Agents informed him that [9] was not being truthful.148 Four months later, after [9] was charged with felonious assault, the Knoxville SAC urged the Knox County Attorney General to undertake vigorous prosecution, because it would act as a deterrent against Klan violence, but an out of court settlement was reached instead. Over the next year and a half, agents continued to urge a subsequent county administration to re-open the case, but failed.149

After agents interviewed [9] however, he stopped attending meetings of the Mascot Klavern.150 Located north of Knoxville in Corryton, the twenty-member strong Mascot Klavern #788 had been organized in January 1968. Agents made a concentrated effort, interviewing Klavern members two to three times each. Since the presence of FBI cars and agents was very obvious in the small rural communities of Corryton and Mascot, agents were observed talking to particular Klan members. This created suspicions of one particular Klavern member, even as interviews reduced membership to 4-5 members. By December the Klavern had been forced to fold up.151

Others Non-police purge: information that an employee at a "key facility under the responsibility of the US Air Force" was a Klansman was disseminated to the branch's Office of Special Investigations.152

When a Miami Klansman became active in an anti-busing organization, agents exposed his role through the Ft Lauderdale News, forcing him to disassociate from the group.153 COINTELPRO operations also prompted the firing of two municipal employees 154 and a school teacher155 who belonged to the Klan, and prevented the wife of a Klansman from gaining public sector employment.156 COINTELPRO exposed several politicians who had actively sought Klan support.157

Other COINTELPRO operations attempted to associate the Klans with the very criminal activity that the order claimed to oppose. These operations discredited the Klan by using intelligence to facilitate arrests, prosecutions and convictions of individual Klansmen on non-federal charges, and then informing allied journalists.

Florida Klan leader Charles B. Riddlehoover became a prime COINTELPRO target because he had discussed "commission of acts of violence such as burnings of automobiles and cross burnings,” but also because:
The UKKKK is not a powerful Klan organization, however, the general public does not make the distinctions we do. Therefore, and in the event [Riddlehoover] is convicted, mass media coverage of same would mitigate against all Klan organizations.158
After FBI officials tipped-off local police about a prior felony conviction in Georgia, Florida officers conducted a traffic stop, found a revolver in his automobile, and charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Seizing Klan material in the stop, police issued a press release exposing the identities of the Klan’s fifteen top officers.159

Selective enforcement of the laws and negative publicity was followed by covert action aimed at influencing the subsequent judicial process. During the appeal process,agents alerted journalists that Riddlehoover was scheduled to speak at a Klan rally, so that negative publicity might "adversely influence the court's decision to affirm or reverse [Riddlehoover's] conviction." After agents forwarded copies of news clippings and photographs to "appropriate Dade County authorities," Riddlehoover canceled a second Klan rally. Within two months, the UKKKK had "disintegrated."160

A Monroe Klan organizer was warned by FBI? that a federal conspiracy prosecution would ensue unless he dismissed one of his officers, even though no violation of federal law had in fact taken place. Worried, the organizer forced the officer to step down and appointed him to a powerless position.161
Thus COINTELRPO not only aimed to eliminate Klan leaders who advocated violence, as David Cunningham has argued, this—actually worked


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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