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Black Woman New Owner Of Klan Headquarters

May 20, 1987 GMT

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) _ A black woman whose teen-age son was killed by two Klansmen became the owner Wednesday of the headquarters of the United Klans of America.

The white supremacist organization passed the legal title of the Tuscaloosa building to Mrs. Beulah Mae Donald of Mobile. Mrs. Donald’s 19-year-old son, Michael, was beaten to death in 1981 by two United Klan members. His body was found hanged in a tree.

Bill Stanton of Montgomery, director of Klanwatch, a KKK monitoring project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Wednesday the building’s future use had not been decided.

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″Conceivably, I could see it used as a location for a church youth camp, some non-profit group,″ Stanton said. ″It may be fitting to see it used in some way to promote racial harmony.″

Mrs. Donald sued the United Klans over her son’s death, and a federal court jury awarded her $7 million on Feb. 12. The decision and the loss of the headquarters building - the United Klans’ only asset - effectively puts the group out of business, said Morris Dees, a Montgomery lawyer who directs the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Dees and state Sen. Michael Figures of Mobile represented Mrs. Donald in the lawsuit. Dees estimated the Klan building is worth $250,000.

Dees said Mrs. Donald did not sue for monetary reasons.

″She wanted to make sure that no mother had to go through this again. She said whatever happened with the building and property, she didn’t want to profit personally from it,″ he said.

John Mays, an attorney who represented the Klan during the trial, declined to comment on the settlement Wednesday.

Dees said the deed to the 7,200-square-foot headquarters building, on 6.4 acres of land adjacent to Lake Tuscaloosa, was given to Mrs. Donald on Tuesday, and the title was filed in Ms. Donald’s name Wednesday in Tuscaloosa County.

Before the settlement, the Klan had claimed another group, the Anglo Saxon Club, actually owned the building.

Dees said he thought United Klans settled because ″I think that a lot of stuff was going to come out that would have implicated Klan board members for some things in the past and made them personally liable. Secondly, they are so destitute financially that they probably didn’t have the money to hire a lawyer to fight the litigation.″

Only one of the six individual defendants in the civil case, Benny Hays, has substantial assets, Dees said.

″Our lawyers are in the process of foreclosing on everything they can,″ Dees said.

Hays could not be reached by telephone Wednesday. His son, Henry Hays, was sentenced to death in the Donald slaying. Another Klansman, James ″Tiger″ Knowles, pleaded guilty to violating Donald’s civil rights and is serving a life sentence.