Klan/Nazi

NOVEMBER 3, 1979
Late 1970s: Marxists recruit in the working-class back communities of Greensboro and organize labor unions at Cone Mill plants.

1979: Textile union decertifies and seizes control of locals organized by Communists.
September 1979: At a Nazi and Klan rally in Louisburg near Raleigh, an alliance is formed between the national Socialist Party of America, a neo-nazi organization, and the Invisible Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

October 10: Nelson Johnson applies to Greensboro police for a parade permit for a Nov. 3 “Death to the Klan” march through several public housing neighborhoods, beginning at Morningside and ending at Freeman Mill Road. Police informer Eddie Dawson, a longtime Klansman obtains a copy of the parade permit detailing the route. That night, Dawson pastes his own posters over the “Death to Klan” fliers. Dawson’s posters, depicting a man hanging from a tree, read: “NOTICE to the Traitors, Communists, Race Mixers and Black Rioters. Even now the cross-hairs are on the back of YOUR necks. It’s time for old-fashioned American Justice.”

November 3: Dawson twice calls police Det. Jerry Cooper with progress reports and tells the detective that the Klan-Nazi group has guns. Cooper and a police photographer are following the group as they arrive at Morningside.

88 Seconds of Bloodshed:
Nine Klan vehicles arrive on Everitt Street.

Demonstrators attack some vehicles with clubs.

Shots are fired into the air from some of the lead vehicles sending onlookers fleeing down Carver Drive.

Klansmen clash with demonstrators. Sandi Smith (CWP) is injured in the clash and makes her way to the community center porch.

Jim Waller (CWP) and Roy Toney (Klan-Nazi) are fighting over a CWP shotgun. Jim Wrenn, (CWP) Cesar Cauce (CWP) and several Klansmen join the clash.

Wrenn leaves the shotgun to Toney and runs to the TV news car.

Cauce, fighting with Klansmen, is hit on the head with a club and knocked down.

Jerry Smith (Klan-Nazi) heads toward Cauce, firing a pistol.

Wayne Wood (Klan-Nazi) fires a shotgun into the TV news car where a dozen people are taking cover. He fires a shot that injures Waller.

David Mathews (Klan-Nazi) shoots Waller with a shotgun.

Dori Blitz (CWP) fires a 38 at Jerry Smith. Jerry Smith (Klan-Nazi) fires at Cauce. Both miss. Blitz empties gun a Jerrry Smith but misses.

Jerry Smith shoots Cauce. Cauce struggles to his feet, but another Klansman hits him on the head with a pole, knocking him down.

Bill Sampson (CWP) shoots a pistol at Jack Fowler (Klan-Nazi) and Matthews.

Fowler shoots a rifle at Sampson, hitting the news car.

Mike Nathan (CWP) tries to go check on Waller.

Toney shoots a shotgun, wounding a fellow Klansman and Paul Bermanzohn (CWP) who just stepped out of the shadows. Klansmen flee to their vehicles.

Nathan is shot by Matthews. Wrenn tries to get to Nathan.

Matthews shoots again and hits both Wrenn and Sampson.

Claire Butler, who is on the porch of the community center with Sandi Smith, fires a pistol at Matthews and misses.
Matthews shoots back at Butler, hitting Sandi Smith.

Final Tally - CWP: Five dead, 10 injured. Dead: Jim Waller, Cesar Cauce, Bill Sampson, Mike Nathan, Sandy Smith Klan/Nazis: One wounded by friendly fire.

TRIALS
1980 Criminal Trial (Guilford County Superior Court) N.C. v Fowler
Trial begins August 4, 1980.
Guilford County District Attorney: Mike Schlosser Prosecutors: Rick Greeson, Jim Coman Defendants: 14 Klan and Nazis; 6 tried for first-degree murder.
David Matthews
Jerry Smith
Jack Fowler
Wayne Wood
Johnny Pridmore
Lawrence Morgan
Roy Toney
Junior McBride
Harold Fowlers
Billy Joe Franklin
Terry Hartsoe

Riot charges only
Carl Nappier
Lee McLain
Michael Clinton

Conspiracy – dismissed (Conspiracy charge dismissed against all defendants) Milano Caudle

DEMONSTRATORS DID NOT TESTIFY
From Codename GREENKIL Chapter 13, page 203: “The prosecutors and the CWP witnesses were at a standoff. The demonstrators held firm to their decision not to give full statements to the prosecutors unless they were all granted immunity; the prosecutors did not feel they could make any bargains until they knew what the demonstrators had to say. And Greeson and Coman had strong indications that the demonstrators were not going to testify even if immunity were granted.” “As the trial date approached, the district attorneys made a decision that made any cooperation by the CWP impossible. Rather than grant immunity or drop the misdemeanor riot charges against Nelson Johnson, Allen and Dori Blitz, Rand Manzella, Lacey Russell, and Percy Sims, the prosecutors asked the grand jury for felony indictments against the six. “We wanted to do it all along,” said Coman. “We held off hoping that we were going to get some kind of cooperation from them. But when it appeared that nobody was going to cooperate, then hell, there wasn’t any reason to hold back going to the grand jury.” Chapter 14, page 213: “The trial began on August 4, but by then the demonstrators’ decision had been made: they would not testify.” November 17, 1980: Verdicts: Not Guilty, all counts

1984 Criminal Trial (Federal Court Winston-Salem)
U.S. v Griffin Trial begins January 9, 1984 Virgil Griffin Ed Dawson David Matthews Wayne Wood Jerry Smith Jack Fowler Roy Toney John Pridmore Milano Caudle Chapter 16, page 254: “Indictment: Under Section 371, Title 18, of the U.S. Code, charging a general conspiracy to violate federal law. Also charged with violating two subsections of 245: (b)(2)(B)-a conspiracy to violate the rights of persons because they were participating in an integrated activity.” “Matthews, Wood, Smith, Fowler, and Toney were also charged for actions under the code that resulted in injury or death. And Wood was charged under a separate subsection, interfering with interstate commerce, for wounding one of the television photographers..” “..Dawson and Griffin were issued separate indictments for conspiring to interfere with the federal investigation.” April 15, 1984: Verdicts: Not Guilty
DEMONSTRATORS TESTIFY
Frankie Powell Tom Clark Allen and Dori Blitz Paul Bermanzohn These 5 are mentioned in Chapter 17, Pages 266-71, but more could have testified, the account does not do a witness by witness account.

1985 Civil Trial (Federal Court Winston-Salem)
Waller v. Butkovich: $48 million civil suit against 65 defendants under federal conspiracy and state wrongful death and assault and battery statutes. Verdicts: November 6, 1985: Chapter 19, page 281: “The jury refused to award any punitive damages and denied all claims under federal conspiracy laws, voting only to hold eight defendants liable for the injuries to three plaintiffs. In the wrongful death of Mike Nathan, the jury held liable event commander Paul Spoon; Detective Jerry Cooper and his informant Ed Dawson; Mark Sherer, who fired the first shot; and those who fired the wounding and fatal shots – David Matthews, Jerry Smith, Wayne Wood, and Jack Fowler. They also held the four shooters liable for assault and battery on Nathan, Paul Bermanzohn , and Tom Clark.” “The jury set total damages at $394,959.55: $351,500 for the wrongful death of Nathan; $3,600 for assault and battery on Nathan; $1,500 for assault and battery on Tom Clark; and $38,359.55 for assault and battery on Paul Bermanzohn.” “The city threatened to appeal; the plaintiffs had already filed another $48 million civil suit against Cooper’s supervisor and several more ATF and FBI agents.” “The appeal was dropped, the civil suit was dropped, and the city paid only the damages for which the jury held Spoon and Cooper liable.” Settlement: City of Greensboro consented to pay $351,500 to the estate of Michael Nathan.

Sources: “Codename Greenkil” by Elizabeth Wheaton; News footage; News & Record archive
Some of the key events surrounding the 1979 Klan-Nazi shootings.
Nov. 3, 1979 — Members of the Klan, Communist Workers Party and neo-Nazis clash at the former Morningside Homes at a “Death to the Klan” march. Five people are killed and 10 injured.
Aug. 4, 1980 — Criminal trial of 14 Klan and Nazi members begins in Guilford County Superior Court. Six face first-degree murder charges.
Nov. 17, 1980 — Trial ends with not guilty verdicts on all counts.
Jan. 9, 1984 — Criminal trial in federal court in Winston-Salem begins for nine people involved in the shootings.
April 15, 1984 — Federal trial ends with not guilty verdicts.
March 11, 1985 — Federal civil trial begins in Winston-Salem.
June 7, 1985 — The jury awards nearly $400,000 in damages after finding two police officers and six Klansmen and Nazis liable for the wrongful death of one of those killed, and for assault and battery on two survivors.*
Nov. 6, 1985 — The city of Greensboro settles for $351,000 to the estate of Michael Nathan, one of the men killed.*
2004 — The Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission forms to look into the 1979 shootings.
May 26, 2006 — The Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission releases its 400-page report on the shootings after a two-year investigation.
May 31, 2006 — Greensboro Mayor Keith Holliday says the city does not need to apologize for its role in the shootings.
March 6, 2007 — City Council votes 5-4 to oppose a resolution that would have the board “seriously consider” the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
May 2008 — The Greensboro Police Department says an internal investigation concluded that no evidence related to the shootings had been destroyed as was alleged in a complaint.
June 16, 2009 — City Council votes 5-4 to approve a statement of regret about the shootings — one of the recommendations the city Humans Relations Commission made after studying the shootings and the 2006 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
December 2014 -- The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee unanimously approves a historical marker near site of shootings.
Jan. 15, 2015 — A deeply divided Greensboro City Council discusses the proposed historical marker at a work session with plans to vote Feb. 3 on whether to approve the marker.

*Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill
Compiled by Jennifer Fernandez

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