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93 Blue by Day and White by [K]night ROBIN BARNES The Klan'5 History-Trail of Violence Embittered by the South's defeat during the Civil War, early Klansmen set out to keep the "niggers" in their place and to eliminate all scalawags, carpetbaggers, and other northerners who preached political and social equality for blacks. Under the banner "White Supremacy Forever," the group's activities included beatings, lynchings, torture , and mutilation, often inflicted with impunity because judges, politicians, and lawenforcement officers were fellow Klansmen or loyal sympathizers. In 1871, during its deliberations on what has become widely known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, Congress compiled nearly six hundred pages of testimony dealing with the activities of Klansmen and the inability or unwillingness of state governments to punish their crimes. The following are excerpts of testimony from various jurisdictions: Indiana: Of the hundreds of outrages committed upon loyal people through the agency of this Ku Klux Klan organization not one has been punished. This defect in the administration of the laws does not extend to other cases. Vigorously enough are the laws enforced against Union people. They only fail in efficiency when a man of known Union sentiments, white or black, invokes their aid. Kansas: While murder is stalking abroad in disguise, while whippings and lynchings and banishment have been visited upon unoffending American citizens, the local administrations have been found inadequate or unwilling to apply the proper corrective. Combinations darker than the night that hides them, conspiracies, wicked as the worst of felons could devise, have gone unwhipped of justice. Massachusetts: Now, it is an effectual denial by a State of the equal protection of the laws when any class of officers charged under the laws with their administration permanently and as a rule refuse to extend that protection.l Fifty years later, not much had changed. In 1923, a group of white men, with the help of the Ku Klux Klan, burned down virtually all of Rosewood, Florida, killing dozens of people in the all-black town. No one was ever convicted of the murders, and state officials responded by simply removing the town from the map. Seventy years later, a 1993 legislative initiative to memorialize the massacre, reimburse the black families for their losses, and place the city back on the map opened as follows: Copyright © 1996 by Robin Barnes. Reprinted by permission. Publication forthcoming in the Iowa Law Review . Copyrighted Material 562 Robin Barnes People came from all around to take part in the manhunt. They were people with a thirst for blood. The remaining survivors of Rosewood ... are still tortured with the lingering image of a parent or grandparent being lynched or shot, of the family home being burned to the ground, of crawling through the woods in the dead of night and hiding from an armed and crazy mob: of being hated and attacked for nothing more than their color.2 During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, white terrorists again resorted to burning, bombing, beating, and murder in a futile effort to stop black advances. As had happened a century earlier, these offenders generally avoided arrest by Southern law-enforcement officers and almost never suffered conviction. For example, Joseph Shoemaker, a Northern white activist, was kidnapped in Tampa, Florida, where he was beaten and covered with hot tar. Seven police officers were arrested; loyal Klansmen, all were acquitted after being tried twice.3 It was simply "not a punishable crime to kill a Negro or civil rights worker."4 In Jonesboro, Louisiana, the Klan marched through the black section of town behind a sheriff's patrol car in the mid-1960s in mute emphasis that the Klan's effort to prevent blacks from registering to vote was backed by official sanction. A suit was filed in the federal district court of Mississippi against all sheriffs and deputies in the state, the Ku Klux Klan, the head of the Mississippi State Patrol, and the White Citizens' Council for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts.s As the civil rights movement drew to an end with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Klan membership dropped to its lowest level ever. But as conservative leaders came to office announcing the need for limits upon the remedial power of civil rights legislation, enforcement of civil rights laws began to wane.6 Against this backdrop, a new wave of anti-black militancy and polarization escalated throughout the...


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