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Greensboro Massacre Video

by Liv | Published on January 28th, 2006, 5:32 pm | Greensboro

Greensboro Massacre Video

No spin on this one. I only learned of the massacre a couple years ago. I had never seen photos or video of the incident. I didn't live in the state when it happened, and would have been 2 at the time. But, I've been very interested in it since, and stumbled upon this video. This may be something already out there on the net, but I hadn't found it yet, and being that there may be others like myself, too young to understand or remember, I thought I'd post it on here & share. I still don't understand the events of that day completely but yet I understand something very painful happened.


Klansmen, Nazis, and Government Complicity

AFIB EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION: On November 3, 1979, a "United Racist Front" of
Klansmen and Nazis gunned down five members of the leftist Communist
Workers Party in cold blood, setting the stage for an explosion of
murderous attacks during the eighties. Before the decade was out, neo-Nazis
and their KKK allies were beginning to forge a new strategy, "leaderless
resistance": terrorist violence undertaken by small, autonomous cells whose
purpose is to wage racist war "by other means." In the wake of the 1995
attack on the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, the FBI
and other agencies of government repression are focusing their gun-sights
on the far-right. This too, follows a discernible pattern: when the
far-right and their minions attack "appropriate" targets - leftists, trade
unionists, people of color and queers, the state turns a blind eye; when
the state itself or corporate elites are attacked, the full weight of the
government's repressive apparatus is brought to bear against the
perpetrators. This was amply demonstrated during the sordid "Iran-Contra"
affair when several fascist and Christian Patriot outfits lent their
paramilitary expertise to the National Security Council's "off-the-shelf"
operations to illegally aid drug-tainted Nicaraguan Contras. It would be a
dangerous strategy indeed for the anti-fascist movement to believe that
this apparent "new turn" by the state represents a fundamental break with
its repressive past. As we honor the Greensboro Martyrs, let us also study
the history of repression against the left across North America; a legacy
of nativist violence always close to the surface. Those today who urge a
new generation of anti-racist activists to rely on cops, courts or
legislative prescriptions to "defend" us from attack by armed neo-Nazis and
their hooded brethren in the KKK, conveniently demonstrate political
amnesia when the issue of state-fascist collaboration comes to the fore. We
neglect this history at great peril.



By Marty Nathan

When Klansmen and Nazis attacked the anti-Klan demonstrators on November 3,
1979, the surviving victims immediately suspected police complicity and
declared so on the scene. They had been given a legal parade permit and
been guaranteed police protection. In an unprecedented move, police had
banned weapons from the march - unconcealed guns are legal in North
Carolina. The police had promised march organizer Nelson Johnson that they
would meet him at Carver and Everett Streets in Greensboro's black
community at 10 O'clock a.m.

Not only did they not show, but there were no police anywhere in the area
when the Klansmen arrived at 11:18. Moreover, when police finally arrived
after the attack, they arrested demonstrators rather than pursuing
Klansmen. Organizer Nelson Johnson was immediately and brutally arrested
for inciting to riot, and activist Willena Cannon and textile organizer
Rand Manzella were also jailed. Meanwhile, eight carloads of Klansmen and
Nazis escaped unimpeded. The ninth car, a van, was stopped by police only
because it had stopped to pick up a wounded Klansman (shot by a fellow
Klansman). The five murdered included the three leading textile union
organizers in the local Communist Workers Party, all active at Cone Mills
textile plants. Jim Waller had led a successful strike at the Granite Mill
in Haw River in 1978, and he and Bill Sampson had been president of their
ACTWU locals. Sandi Smith had led an organizing drive at a third mill. The
coincidence was too remarkable to attribute to chance.

In subsequent months, the demonstrators' suspicions were verified. The FBI
revealed that it had begun an investigation of the North Carolina CWP in
the weeks before the murders, ending the day before the murders. A textile
worker friend of Sandi Smith in Kannapolis, North Carolina, came forward
saying that she had been frightened from going to the march when, the week
before the march, two plain-clothed policemen she believed to be FBI came
to her and asked her to identify a picture of Sandi and a bearded white man
whom she later identified as Jim Waller.

Investigative journalists opened the doors to understanding police and
federal involvement. Greensboro Daily News reporter Martha Woodall revealed
the role of federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) agent
Bernard Butkovich, who in July, 1979, came to North Carolina for the stated
purpose of investigating the presence of illegal automatic weapons in the
Winston Salem Nazis. He promised to show them how to make such weapons and
explosives, and encouraged them to kill a rival Klansman. He was present at
the critical meeting of Klansmen and Nazis in Louisburg, North Carolina, in
September, 1979, when the "United Racist Front" was formed between North
Carolina Klansmen and Nazis. Unknown to the CWP, these traditional rivals
joined forces at this rally explicitly to plan a response to "the
communists" after the CWP successfully rallied the China Grove community
against them in July. Butkovich encouraged Nazis to go to the attack in
Greensboro, was present at all the known Nazi planning meetings for the
attack, but then did not go himself.

In the Klan, the pivotal figure was Klansman/police informant and previous
FBI informant Edward Dawson. After CWP organizers had applied for the
parade permit for the November 3rd march, policeman Jerry "Rooster" Cooper
had approached Dawson and paid him to find out what the Klan's response to
the march would be. Dawson proceeded to create that response, meeting with
Klansmen at rallies around the state, urging them to come to Greensboro,
and simultaneously meeting with Cooper. He also had at least two meetings
with his old FBI agent contact and told him about his work.

On November 1, two days before the murders, Dawson went to the Greensboro
Police Station and was given a copy of the parade permit by a police
lieutenant, even before the permit had been granted to the demonstrators.
On the night before the attack, Dawson and North Carolina Klan leader
Virgil Griffin rode the route drawn on the parade permit, to select a site
of attack.

One the morning of the attack, Nazis and Klansmen gathered at the home of
Dawson's friend, Brent Fletcher. There Dawson oversaw the loading of guns
into the arsenal car, and according to Klansmen, was clearly in charge. He
made two calls to Cooper, his police contact, and reported the presence of
weapons. Then Cooper and a police photographer watched and photographed the
formation of the Klan-Nazis caravan. When the caravan took off, Dawson was
in the lead car with the CWP parade permit obtained from police, and the
nine cars of Klansmen and Nazis were openly trailed by a tenth car - the
Greensboro police car containing officer Cooper and the and the police

It was at this time that the police tactical squad, assigned to protect the
marchers, was sent to early lunch. When the Klansmen and Nazis arrived at
the corner of Carver and Everett Streets in the heart of Greensboro's Black
neighborhood, unsuspecting demonstrators were chanting and singing and
preparing for their march. Dawson stopped the front car. Nazis and Klansmen
poured out with sticks, clubs and knives. Shots were fired from the front
of the caravan, driving demonstrators to the back. From there, Klansmen and
Nazis pulled their rifles and shot guns and, with cigarettes dangling from
their mouths, in no obvious hurry, they fired. Five demonstrators were
killed, and nine were wounded, two critically. Another Klansman and a
member of the media were also injured. Cooper watched and his photographer
took pictures. After the shooting had stopped and the attackers had left,
squad cars finally arrived.

Three trials followed in the next six years. In 1980, six Klansmen and
Nazis were tried for murder by the Greensboro district attorney. An
all-white jury was picked whose foreman was an anti-Castro Cuban who stated
that it was less of a crime to kill communists than to kill others. Another
juror had been the next door neighbor and friend of a Klan leader. Nazis
and Klansmen claimed self-defense. The FBI's sound witnesses supported them
stating that they could not tell where some of the early shots came from -
they might have come from demonstrators. The prosecutors referred to the
murdered as "the alleged victims" and had charged a total of six
demonstrators for felony riot, stating that all evidence in the Klan/Nazi
trial could be used against those surviving demonstrators. Consequently,
CWP witnesses refused to testify. The district attorney never called Dawson
or Butkovich to the stand. The jury was never advised of the extensive
evidence of premeditation - to have done so would have exposed the
government complicity in the attack. All six Klansmen and Nazis had been
recorded by TV cameras gunning down demonstrators, with their real appeal
racism and anti-communism they were found not guilty.

Outraged demonstrators across the South called for federal prosecution of
the murderers. The Reagan Justice Department, under fire for its lack of
response to increasing racist violence, responded with a grand jury which
indicted nine Klansmen, including Dawson. However, the call by Greensboro
African American leaders to employ a Special Prosecutor to investigate
government impropriety was denied.

Though circumstances had improved for this prosecution - inclusion of
Dawson, victims no longer in jeopardy of prosecution - the prosecutors were
strapped by their own political motivations. Prosecuting the Klan under the
reconstruction-era federal civil rights laws, they chose a statute that
required proof of racism as animus (motive). However, with their chief
investigator the same FBI agent, Thomas Brereton, that had been present in
the Greensboro office investigating the CWP prior to the murders, the U.S.
Attorneys had every reason to avoid the sensitive issue of official
complicity with the Klan and Nazis in the massacre.

The federal trial took place in 1984. The Klansmen and Nazis again pleaded
self defense, but the FBI sound experts reversed themselves and testified
that all of the first eleven shots originated from Klan/Nazi guns. However,
the racists were able to plead successfully to this all-white jury that, no
matter what they did, their motive was not racial, it was political. They
were only out to shoot communists that day, and therefore were not guilty
of the charges against them. Once again they were acquitted.

This second failure to jail men recorded by four TV cameras committing
murder was a devastating blow to racial and labor justice. In this setting,
the Greensboro Civil Rights Suit took on new urgency. Using the civil
statutes of the federal civil rights laws as well as state wrongful death
and assault, the widowed, injured, and jailed demonstrators sued for
damages against Klansmen, Nazis, Greensboro police and city officials, BATF
and FBI agents and officials with prior knowledge of the attack.

Specifically included in the Greensboro Civil Rights Suit were Dawson,
Cooper, Butkovich and Brereton. The suit drew the legal involvement of
Flynt Taylor of the People's Law Office of Chicago (responsible for the
successful Fred Hamton/ Mark Clark Black Panther Suit against Chicago
Police), Lewis Pitts and Dan Sheehan of the Christic Institute (who had
waged the successful Karen Silkwood Suit against Kerr-McGee), and local
counsel Carolyn McAllaster and Gayle Korotkin.

Discovery and court testimony in the Civil Rights Suit brought new
revelations of government involvement. Bernard Butkovich's role in the
Nazis was only made seamier by exposure. Butkovich not only was present at
the Louisburg September United Racist Front - he was wearing a taped
listening device during his meetings with head Nazis and Klansmen. In
testimony all too reminiscent of Watergate's Rosemary Woods, Butkovich
complained that his tape battery ran out during those meetings. However,
his ATF partner, listening at the time, recalled no breaks in the tape
throughout Butkovich's Louisburg operation.

TV footage was produced of Nazis gathered in Winston-Salem the night before
the murders. In it Butkovich is caught in Nazi regalia at the meeting in
which he urged Nazis to participate with Klansmen and to bring guns to
Greensboro. (Footage of this, as well as the November 3rd shootings can be
seen on the PBS Frontline series documentary "88 Seconds in Greensboro").

Startlingly, the ATF revealed that there were actually two agents working
with the Nazis in Winston-Salem. The other was a pilot, and though
Butkovich was not present in the Klan/Nazi caravan on the morning of
November 3rd, this agent testified that he was flying with Butkovich "in
the vicinity of Greensboro" (!) that morning. As to why Butkovich's
operation ended coincidentally on the morning of November 3rd and he did
not go with Nazis to Greensboro to pursue the possible presence and use of
illegal automatic weapons by the Nazis, he testified that he had found no
such weapons and there was no further need to investigate.

ATF officials all testified to a lack of guidelines for undercover agents
in regard to provocation of illegal acts of violence and duty to protect
potential victims of that violence.

Finally, Butkovich and ATF records verified that he had reported on his
operations to his superiors and the ATF had communicated and coordinated
with FBI and local police since the beginning of the operation.

More evidence of FBI prior knowledge was uncovered. Klansman Dawson
testified that he told his old FBI control agent Len Bogaty about his
concerns regarding impending violence. Bogaty's response was to advise
Dawson not to go to Greensboro.

As for the FBI investigation of the CWP, for the first time the textile
worker's testimony of targeting of Sandi Smith and Jim Waller entered court
records. The Bureau vigorously denied the incident. It admitted, however,
that there was an FBI informant in the CWP working in Durham. He had become
close to victim Paul Bermazohn, a local CWP leader, and had knowledge of
the lack of guns and preparedness for armed attack on the part of the CWP.

Meanwhile, others outside officialdom were getting wind of the impending
violence and trying to stop it. Jewish Defense Organization leader
Mordechai Levi had learned through sources about the Nazi plot. He called
the Raleigh FBI agency in Greensboro and , assuming that the agent was
Jewish (as it turned out, he was not), asked to speak to Agent Goldberg.
Levi informed Goldberg specifically that the Nazis were going to attack an
anti-Klan demonstration in Greensboro on November 3rd and kill
demonstrators. When Goldberg was questioned under oath, at first he denied
having received the call, then he testified that he did not report it
because he did not think that it was important.

Finally, then-U.S. Attorney H.M. Michaux testified that on the evening of
November 2, office-mate FBI Agent Brereton announced to him that on the
following day there was going to be "fireworks" in Greensboro. Greensboro
police documents revealed that department officials had met several times
to discuss the pending attack and Police Chief Swing himself knew that up
to one hundred Klansmen were coming, bringing guns and possibly a machine
gun. In the days before the attack, Dawson, possible possessed by guilt or
fear, went to police officials and even the police attorney to ask if he
could get an injunction against the anti-Klan march. Police officials told
him there was nothing to be done. Dawson's parting shot to police was "Next
time I'll bring you a bucket of blood!"

On the morning of the murders, as demonstrators were gathering unaware at
the corner of Carver and Everett, the police tactical squad designated to
protect them met at police headquarters in full knowledge of Rooster
Cooper's report from Dawson that Klansmen were gathering in Greensboro with
guns to attack the anti-Klan march. Therefore, ignorance was no feasible
defense for the lack of police presence in the Morningside community.
However, it was the testimony of former police officer April Wise that
sealed the issue of collusion with the Klan and Nazis in refusal to protect
the demonstrators. On the morning of November 3rd, Wise had been sent to
the community to settle a domestic dispute. In the minutes before 11:00,
she received a call from the dispatcher asking if she was finished with the
task, and requesting that she "Clear the area!" Wise remember the incident
because it was unusual and incomprehensible, unless police deliberately
wanted no presence near the anti-Klan marchers. Though the call was
mysteriously absent from police dispatcher tapes and records, a CB radio
fan, scanning the police frequencies at the time, verified its occurrence
under oath.

For the first time all this evidence was presented to the jury. And in the
courtroom, in an oddly open display of solidarity, U.S. Attorneys defending
federal agents and police attorneys adopted a strategy of defending the
Klansmen and Nazis. Once again, the FBI sound officials reversed
themselves, and reiterated their previous analysis that shots number 3,4,
and 5 might have come from the demonstrators. The Klansmen and Nazis were
friendly witnesses for the federal and police attorneys, whose job it was
to crucify the plaintiffs as unpatriotic race mixers and dangerous
troublemakers who would conspire to martyr their own in the interest of the
communist revolution.

This time it did not work. This time, finally, the victims had their own
prosecutors, unfettered by the necessity to cover up official wrongdoing.
This time, for the first time, they were presented as human victims of a
bloody massacre.

This time police and constitutional experts testified about the unlawful
nature of agents provocateurs and the lawful duty of police to protect
citizens. And this time, there was a lone Black man on the six-person jury.

On June 8, 1985, 7 Klansmen and Nazis, Edward Dawson, Officer Jerry Cooper
and police tactical squad leader Lieutenant P.W. Spoon were found liable
for the wrongful death of Michael Nathan and $350,000 was awarded to his
widow and 6-year-old daughter Leah. Those Klansmen and Nazis, but not
police, were found liable for the assaults on demonstrators Tom Clark and
Paul Bermanzohn.

In a final and fitting irony, the City of Greensboro paid all the damages
for the death of Michael Nathan, permanently and legally establishing their
collusion with the Klan.

The legacy of the struggle for justice in the Greensboro Massacre is one of
the power of political action in the face of tremendous odds. The victims
of Greensboro were, on November 3, 1979, isolated marginalized and in legal
jeopardy. All attempts to organize for justice were met by North Carolina
State Bureau of Investigation disruption tactics (See Institute for
Southern Studies report, "The Third of November.") Yet through persistence
and reliance on those who understood that the denial of rights to any group
was a threat to democracy for all; and by the willingness to take those
demands for justice to the streets, into the courts, to City Hall, to
Congress, and to jail, a modicum of justice has prevailed in Greensboro.

The damages paid by the City of Greensboro to Martha Nathan were divided
among all the plaintiffs. A portion was donated back by those plaintiffs to
the Greensboro Justice Fund. It formed the seed for the foundation that
has, since 1987, given more than $75,000 in grants to groups fighting
against racism in the South. It is a fitting tribute to the memories of
five brave young people who died on that sunny Saturday morning in

OMG! It gives me chills of fear and disgust.My heart is totally beating fast right now. You might want to put some kind of viewr discretion label on this one in case someone is openig up and viewing this file around children or in an inappropriate atmosphere.
January 30th, 2006, 10:31 am
I think everyone has an idea of what the Massacre was about. Even more importantly the word MASSACRE in the title line should suffice as enough warning to any anal moms, forcing their children to surf the web with them.
January 30th, 2006, 10:56 am
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I show you something fantastic and you find fault.
Location: Greensboro, NC
Searching through videos online I came across this one, which I never had ever seen before. I'm easily intrigued by old historic videos, so this was a real interesting.

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Script and Newsreel Footage of Greensboro, North Carolina Demonstration

Black demonstrators protest racial segregation in Greensboro, North Carolina. On the ninth day of demonstrations, 420 were arrested without violence. December, 1962
June 3rd, 2006, 9:16 pm
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I show you something fantastic and you find fault.
Location: Greensboro, NC

Associated with the Greensboro Massacre, Virgil Griffin is now dead.

Virgil Griffin, who rose to lead a sect of the Ku Klux Klan, never backed away from his 40-plus year membership in the group, but his family said that's not how people should remember him

Griffin rose to the rank of grand dragon and then to imperial wizard, the highest-ranking member of a particular Klan group. He broke away from the nation's largest Klan group based in Stone Mountain, Ga., to form his own group, he said, because the other group had grown inactive.

"He was a kind, loving man. Everybody who knew him - blacks and whites alike - loved him," James Griffin, 40, of War, W.Va., said. "He will be loved and missed greatly by his family and friends."
October 14th, 2008, 12:21 pm
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I show you something fantastic and you find fault.
Location: Greensboro, NC
What sort of black person would love an "active" KKK Grand Dragon??
February 13th, 2009, 8:35 am
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Location: 5th circle of hell -- actually not very crowded at the moment.
A Black Knight member?
February 13th, 2009, 8:51 am
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I show you something fantastic and you find fault.
Location: Greensboro, NC
SouthernFriedInfidel wrote:What sort of black person would love an "active" KKK Grand Dragon??



"You can't put the civil rights of a minority up for a majority vote."
February 13th, 2009, 8:59 am
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Expert...on everything...
Oh yeah. Fair enough... :lol:
February 13th, 2009, 9:17 am
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Location: 5th circle of hell -- actually not very crowded at the moment.

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