Klan Faction Gives Up Name Under Settlement
ATLANTA (AP) _ A Ku Klux Klan faction, hit with a $1 million verdict in a case brought by civil rights marchers, agreed to pay $37,500 in damages, turn over its office equipment and give up its very name.
But its lawyer said the settlement, approved Wednesday by a federal magistrate, isn’t the end of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, perhaps the nation’s largest and most violent Klan faction.
″They have left me with all the indications in the world that this is just a chapter and that there will be a follow-up chapter,″ Terrence A. Shannon said. ″This is not the end of the Ku Klux Klan.″
The settlement also bars the group from using its mailing lists and the name of its newsletter, the Klansman, through which it sells merchandise such as T-shirts and bumper stickers.
″It doesn’t change their hearts and what is in their mind. But we can hit them where it hurts the most, in the pocketbook,″ said state Rep. Billy McKinney of Atlanta.
The settlement comes five years after McKinney successfully sued the Invisible Empire and its Georgia affiliate, the Southern White Knights, on behalf of 57 civil rights marchers.
The marchers were beaten and stoned in 1987 in mostly white Forsyth County just north of Atlanta. The lawsuit claimed KKK members conspired to deprive them of their civil rights.
The marchers were represented by Morris Dees, who has built his reputation suing white supremacist groups as director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization in Montgomery, Ala.
The Klan faction ″has been around since the Civil War with a history of harming black people,″ Dees told The New York Times. ″To me, judgments like these are a way to stop them from getting together to commit violent acts.″ Dees’ law center has won three other settlements that stripped white supremacist groups of their assets.
Those lawsuits were brought in 1986 in North Carolina against the White Patriot Party; in 1987 against the United Klans of America in Mobile, Ala.; and in 1990 in Portland, Ore., against the White Aryan Resistance.
Dees said the Invisible Empire has about 3,000 members in 22 states from Maine to California and a mailing list of 11,000.
He said that if the Invisible Empire tries to start up again, he will seek criminal contempt charges.
″If they don’t think we can keep them shut down, they’ve got another thing coming,″ he said. ″This agreement will give us the power of the court to enforce it.″
The settlement also requires the Klan to turn over unsold merchandise and about $25,000 in office equipment from it headquarters in Gulf, N.C. Dees said the plaintiffs also have collected about $50,000 from several individuals.
″We got about $100,000 and put the Invisible Empire and the Southern White Knights out of business in the process,″ he said.
James Farrands, the group’s imperial wizard, said he and Daniel B. Carver, Georgia’s top Invisible Empire official, agreed to the terms because they are less expensive than fighting in court.
″It’s a business decision that we made on this,″ Farrands said.
″The agreement states I will refrain from using the name Invisible Empire personally,″ he said. ″Without me in the organization, they can continue on without me.″