the KKK? I mean I know they still have rally’s and such, but to me that seems more similar to a Civil War reenactment than a gathering to further a cause. As if they’re remembering the good old days when they had an influence.
So what happened to put the torches out? Did skinheads take over? Neo-nazis? White Supremacists? Are those simply politically correct terms for the KKK these days? Not exactly. Apparently the Klan got caught, convicted, and executed. Once. And the one time that happened, they backed off.
The legacy lives on however. Maybe if the hoods and cloaks hadn’t been hidden away we wouldn’t be so shocked by the actions of Dunn and Zimmerman. Or by the juries who could not bring themselves to name those actions murder.
Here’s the case that supposedly stopped the Klan. According to the internet, there are some who didn’t get that memo. Seems as though we’ve taken a few steps back, unfortunately. In this post-racial age, we don’t get convictions.
Henry Hays and James Knowles were arrested. Hays, convicted, was incarcerated in the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Alabama, while on death row. He was executed in the electric chair on June 6, 1997. The Associated Press reported that Hays was Alabama’s first execution for a white-on-black crime since 1913. Hays was also the only KKK member to be executed for the murder of an African-American during the 20th century. U.S. District Court Judge W. Brevard Hand sentenced Knowles, then 21 years of age, to a life sentence. He avoided the death penalty by testifying against Hays at trial.
Michael Donald Lynching Case
Shutting down the notorious United Klans
Nineteen-year-old Michael Donald was on his way to the store in 1981 when two members of the United Klans of America abducted him, beat him, cut his throat and hung his body from a tree on a residential street in Mobile, Ala.
Angry that an interracial jury had failed to convict another black man for killing a white police officer in Birmingham, the Klansmen selected Michael Donald at random and lynched him to intimidate and threaten other blacks. On the same evening, other Klan members burned a cross on the Mobile County courthouse lawn.
The two Klansmen who carried out the ritualistic killing were eventually arrested and convicted. Convinced that the Klan itself should be held responsible for the lynching, Center attorneys filed a civil suit on behalf of Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald vs. United Klans. In 1987, the Center won an historic $7 million verdict against the men involved in the lynching.
The verdict marked the end of the United Klans, the same group that had beaten the Freedom Riders in 1961, murdered civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo in 1965, and bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.
The group was forced to turn over its headquarters to Beulah Mae Donald, and two additional Klansmen were convicted of criminal charges.