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



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Informant Takeovers


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Cunningham argued that the FBI’s ultimate aim was to “control” the Klan by replacing militants with FBI informants who could minimize violence. He provided two examples.162 First, in 1970, an FBI informant became Shelton’s speechwriter, resulting in “less racist, critical of violence, more strongly anticommunist” rhetoric.163 Second, while COINTELPRO brought down militants in the Louisiana UKA and elected an informant who could “keep violence to a minimum.”164 Only further research can determine whether the informants who rose to power actually Klan violence in Louisiana.165 UKA informants testified at a Grand Jury hearing that linked the militants to a car bombing, and continued to harass the militant faction, which embraced National Socialism, and built a guerrilla warfare training camp.166

One FBI informant disrupted the leadership of a Klan-Minuteman group in Louisiana and rose to a position of leadership, but FBI redactions make it difficult to determine whether this was the same group discussed above.167 Discuss these168

FBI informant Delmar Dennis was “continuously instructed not to participate in any acts of violence or to issue or condone orders to any of his followers to commit such acts.” Also immediately advise handling agent of any Klan plans to commit acts of violence.169


Agents developed an informant during the early stages of UKA organizing in Tennessee enabling them to “control the expansion of the Klan” and “prevent violence throughout the state.170 Subsequent communications among FBI executives asserted that field office agents "have used some of our informants to control the potential for Klan violence in certain areas.”171 In late 1970 control of the Maryland Realm of the United Klans passed to FBI informants, who were “used to continue ineffective leadership in UKA,” even as aggressive interviews ensured that no activity occurred except for routine klavern meetings.172
The St. Augustine Florida Klavern succummbed to “severe internal disorder,” and became inactive evidently due to the activities of a particularly disruptive informant.173

Under the so-called HORIP program, the Miami field office directed an informant “to move for the removal of Florida Grand Dragon at the National Rally meeting" as part of a plan to "encourage the UKA Imperial Wizard to remove the UKA Florida Grand Dragon.174 The FBI “sufficiently infiltrated the UKA so that the state organization can be completely captured and controlled by this Bureau."175 A violence-prone Klansman named William Richardson, however, also rose to a leadership position during the shakeup. Tampa agents endeavored to remove him, eventually helping police secure his incarceration on contempt and non-support charges, but only after he committed a number of violent acts.176

Richardson left the UKA but formed an independent group called Knights of the Invisible Empire (KOIE) in May 1968.177 He was charged with arson in the firebombing of a sundries store in June 1968. A Fire Marshall and City detectives who had the store under surveillance witnessed Richardson drive behind the store and leave minutes before the blaze broke out. Officers arrested them two blocks away, and found explosives in their truck.178 The Fire Marshall and Fire Inspector had "received confidential information" that a store was to be bombed.179 Agents made plans to exploit divisions in the , consolidate opposition to Richardson, and unseat him.180 In any event, the had difficulty in recruiting while officers waited for the outcome of Richardson’s arson charge.181 Richardson was imprisoned in January 1969. By that time, the UFKKK was losing members and the CIOE had disbanded. After Richardson was imprisoned, only a small contingent of 25 Klansmen remained in two Klaverns, in Melbourne and Titusville. [4 had left the group after being brought up on charges in a special meeting.182 In May, after [5] joined the , the group reactivated, burning a cross to intimidate an alcoholic, driving two black patrons out of a restaurant in a Holopaw service station, and intimidating a white divorcee having affairs with black males. Klansman held a rally to capitalize on a tense racial situation in Melbourne that June. Arrests followed confrontations between black and white youths. Agents “repeatedly instructed” [8] to prevent violence from occurring, and re-interviewed Klansman to “cast a shadow of doubt in their minds as to [5’s] legitimacy as a member,” and to caution them against violence.183 An informant who seems to have attained a high position within the new group was instructed to combat an advocate of violence by questioning Richardson’s legitimacy, ensure that vigilante violence was prevented, and thereby? reduce membership.184 The interviews upset Klansmen, and drove all but seven members to drop out of the group, and [9] advised that he would continue to oppose [5] and block proposals to recruit more members and nullify his influence over the existing ones.185 Tampa one troublemaker will set informants against him.186

On the other hand, as a result of COINTELPRO, "a new awareness to the potential dangers of the Klan's activities [had come] to the public and law enforcement," according to the special Agent in Charge of these operations:


No longer is it difficult to obtain cooperation from local law enforcement officials in taking preventative action against the Klan and the various mass media now willingly take material regarding Klan activities, due to the fact that the public is now interested in reading and hearing about the Klan.187
The Orlando Inter-racial Advisory Board condemned the Klan and urged “that every effort be taken to dissuade, discourage and oppose the KKK in is activities in this area.” It called upon all law enforcement authorities to maintain surveillance over the organization and to “prevent and punish severely violations of existing laws.”188 Since subsequent COINTELPRO-facilitated media exposés furthered this agenda,189 the UKA Imperial Wizard’s claims that that convictions of Klansmen were attributable to prosecuters who paid off “pimps,” to “s[ell] their souls for thirty pieces of silver” to obtain convictions, rung hollow.190
Indiana Grand Dragon William Chaney began providing information to the FBI sometime in 1969. He helped to formulate national UKA strategy and to develop other informants. Within a year the Bureau was also operating "sufficient informant coverage” in a splinter group of dissidents called the Unified Klan: Knights of the KKK “. . . to direct considerable amount of the activities which take place" in Indiana.191 As conflict between the two organizations simmered,192 at least ten other Indiana Klan officers became informants. Chaney fell out with the national UKA, cutting off contributions to its defense fund.

The FBI helped the Hancock County sheriff to expose Klan activity before a Grand Jury. The FBI-controlled splinter group meanwhile, accomplished little aside from gaining publicity.193 Indiana remained quiescent until disturbances during a 1974 UKA culminated in the wounding of two Klansmen by gunfire and the arrest of seventeen Klansmen (on what charges?) by police. Chaney eventually broke with Shelton over COINTELPRO-exacerbated financial and moral issues, on May 31, 1976, and organized an independent Klan group.

In May 1976, Chaney had also been arrested for firebombing an Indianapolis advertising company where he had been a union leader. Defended by Jesse B. Stoner, he was convicted on three felony counts, and in 1977 sent to federal prison after a failed appeal. Existing sources do not indicate whether Chaney was still informing when the firebombing occurred.194 WRITE NEWTON and Wilcox. Another place to look is the Donaldsonville #3 Klavern in Georgia, where an informant seemds to have gained significant power after July 1970.195
The FBI worked with UKA officer George Dorsette against North Carolina Grand Dragon J. R. Jones in 1967, even though members of the faction he led continued to engage in rhetorical violence, burning crosses, and hanging a black man in effigy.196 Dorsett himself employed inflammatory racist rhetoric:
the white man of America will only be pushed so far. We are only backing up to the attack. We don't believe in violence, and we won't have it if we have to kill every nigger in America.197
According to the Director of the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation "dangerous confrontations" between the UKA and the CKKKK occurred, including one occasion in which "the two groups met in force, and both elements had . . . guns, including shotguns. . . . they were physically armed and facing each other."198

Membership in the Confederate Knights declined precipitously in 1968 however, perhaps because Dorsette never launched any nightriding operations. According to a highly-redacted FBI memorandum, the Roxboro Klavern severed their affiliations with the CKKKK, "due to the nature of individuals connected with this group," and the Wadesboro unit "also severed [line redacted] that there has been racial trouble in the Wadesboro area in the past." The Charlotte FBI office reported that "since its formation, no information has been received indicating that members of CKKKK have engaged in any acts of racial violence." At any rate, by 1969, the CKKKK had "accomplished the intended results,” according to Charlotte, which recommended a "phase out program."199


After 1971, when COINTELPRO ended, the FBI (and State and local police intelligence agents) continued to collect intelligence on Klan groups if indications of violent activity or plans arose. If operations in North Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan-produced in a 1969 COINTELPRO-facilitated UKA factional split-are representative, informants seem to have played a major role in providing this information.200 Looking for evidence of civil rights violations, the FBI monitored Knight activity during the early 1970s, receiving information from FBI informant Edward Dawson.201 Unlike the Confederate Knights, the group claimed to reject violence position.202 Only one minor incident of harassment occurred until 1975 when Dawson accused two Klansmen of an alleged bomb plot and turned over explosives to the Bureau, and a racial confrontation between Klan members and black citizens in Morganton descended into a melee.203 Edward Dawson took command of the Knights in 1976, at which point, the Knights had only fifteen to twenty five members.204 Dawson never called another meeting, effectively closing down the organization, and the FBI investigation ended. Dawson joined the Confederation of Independent Orders, led by FBI informant William Chaney, and was elected to national office. Dawson claims that he quit the Klan, as well as the FBI, in 1977.205 PLAYED KEY AGITATIONAL ROLE IN !(&( GREENSBORO EVENTS.

Agents also continued to accept and disseminate information pertaining to criminal matters not falling under FBI jurisdiction during the early 1970s.206 Even after the illegal and extralegal activities of COINTELPRO were exposed, Justice Department executives continued to debate the Bureau’s practice of Preventative Action.207



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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