The United Klans of America Inc. (UKA), based in Alabama, is a Ku Klux Klan organization active in the United States. Led by Robert Shelton, the UKA peaked in membership in the late 1960s and 1970s,and it was the most violent Klan organization of its time. Its headquarters was the Anglo-Saxon Club outside Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The organization was linked to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four young girls;the murder of Viola Liuzzo near Selma in 1965, and the lynching of teenager Michael Donald in Mobile in 1981. Because of murder charges and convictions, some of the UKA's most well-known members included Thomas E. Blanton, Jr., Bobby Frank Cherry, Herman Cash, Robert Chambliss, Bennie Hays, Henry Hays, and James Knowles. Robert Shelton died at the age of 73 in 2003 in Tuscaloosa from a heart attack.
In 1987 the UKA was sued for civil damages stemming from the murder of Michael Donald; the damages awarded by the jury bankrupted the organization. Many former members of the group now purportedly belong to other Ku Klux Klan organizations such as The True Ku Klux Klan.
During the Civil Rights Movement in the Southern United States, members of the United States Klanand the KKK joined forces in 1960 in order to resist and suppress change. In July 1961, Robert Shelton, the son of a member of the KKK, settled in Alabama after his discharge from the Air Force. He rose to become the dominant figure or the Imperial Wizard, of the UKA after his "Alabama Knights" group merged with the "Invisible Empire, United Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of America, Inc.", Georgia Knights, and Carolina Units, forming the United Klans of America (UKA).
The increase in activism in the 1965s resulted in the UKA reaching a peak of active members and sympathetic support, with numbers estimated at 26,000 to 33,000 throughout the South in 1965. It was the largest KKK faction in the world, in a highly decentralized organization.The organization was most popular in North Carolina, where by 1966 over half of all UKA members resided. The UKA disseminated its messages through a newsletter known as The Fiery Cross , which was printed in Swartz, Louisiana. But, membership began to slip once the group was linked to criminal activity, and after Shelton served a one-year term in prison for contempt of the United States Congress in 1969. In the early 1970s, UKA membership dropped from tens of thousands to somewhere between 3500 and 4000. Some members continued to enact violence. By the 1980s, membership dropped to around 900.
In the 1990s the UKA experienced a resurgence of activity of members who returned to teachings of William Joseph Simmons, who had founded and led the second Ku Klux Klan from 1915 to 1922. Simmons taught a kind of fraternal organization that is practiced by the UKA in the 21st century.[ citation needed ] It has several Klaverns active in twenty nine states, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The UKA's membership is not precisely known. Its leadership is believed to be weak and its activities are limited to ceremonial practices with no clear political agenda.[ citation needed ]
The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama had a strong congregation and was a center of activism for many people involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the city, including members of the SCLC who came to help with organizing.Many marchers departed from the church in 1963 protests against the city's segregation of businesses and public places. On a Sunday in September 1963, a bomb exploded in the church during services, killing four young girls: 11-year-old Denise McNair, 14-year-old Carole Robertson, 14-year-old Cynthia Wesley, and 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins. More than 20 other parishioners were injured. Addie Mae Collin's sister lost an eye from injuries of the bombing.
Witnesses said they saw a white man put a box underneath the Church steps after getting out of his Chevrolet car. The police arrested Robert Chambliss, a member of the UKA, after he was identified by a witness, and charged him with murder, in addition to "…possessing a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without a permit." The trial took place in October, but Chambliss was not convicted of murder. He did receive a fine of one hundred dollars and six months in jail for possession of the dynamite. He was tried again when Bill Baxley, the state attorney general of Alabama, realized that much of the evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had against Chambliss was not used in his original trial.The state tried Chambliss, who in 1977 was convicted of the murder of the four girls, and he was sentenced to life in prison at 73 years old, where he eventually died. Chambliss never confessed to the bombing.
On May 16, 2000, the remaining suspects were indicted. The jury convicted UKA members Robert Chambliss, Thomas E. Blanton, Jr., and Bobby Frank Cherry of planting the 19 sticks of dynamite that were used in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.In 2001, Thomas E. Blanton, Jr., was sentenced to life in prison following his trial, in which he was charged with murder. In 2002, Bobby Frank Cherry also was tried for murder and he, too, received life in prison.
In 1965, 39-year-old Viola Liuzzo, a white woman from the North, decided to help support the movement for voting rights in Selma, Alabama. She assisted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in a variety of ways. During the third march, in which thousands of people came to Selma to participate, she helped drive marchers to catch up with the walkers along the route, as it took a few days. Finally she drove marchers back to Selma after the completion of the march to the capital, Montgomery. On March 25, 1965, as she was making her last trip to Montgomery with 19-year-old Leroy Moton to pick up the marchers, four members of the UKA saw Liuzzo sitting at a red light with Moton, a young African American. They followed the pair in their car, eventually driving up beside her, and shot at the car. Moton survived the shots, pretending to be dead, but Liuzzo died of her wounds. Collie Wilkins, William Orville Eaton, Eugene Thomas, and Gary Thomas Rowe were taken into custody the next day. Wilkins, Eaton, and Thomas each were convicted under the new Civil Rights Act of 1964, receiving 10-year prison sentences. Rowe was revealed as an informant for the FBI.
The acquittal of a black man who was accused of shooting a white police officer in Alabama in 1981 was the erstwhile "reason" which three murderers gave for the lynching of Michael Donald, a 19-year-old black man, on March 21, after Josephus Anderson, a black man in Mobile, Alabama, was charged with the murder of a white police officer but acquitted at trial.
UKA member Bennie Hays blamed the jury, claiming that the acquittal was due to the presence of African-American members. Hays said he would kill a black man in retaliation. On March 21, his son Henry Hays, and another younger member of the UKA, James Knowles, decided to take action and drove around to find a victim. They found Michael Donald walking along the street and made him get into their car.After kidnapping him, they drove out to a bordering county, where Hays and Knowles hanged him from a tree.
During the investigation, the police concluded that the murder had to do with drugs, but Donald's mother, Beulah Mae Donald, knew that her son was not involved with drugs, and she decided to take action. She eventually talked to the nationally known civil rights activist Jesse Jackson of Chicago. Thomas Figures, Mobile's U.S. Attorney, contacted the FBI to take on the case under federal civil rights law. Knowles quickly confessed to the lynching.In 1983, James Knowles of the UKA's Klavern 900 in Mobile, was convicted for the 1981 murder of Michael Donald. His conviction resulted in a sentence of life in prison; he was granted mercy because he was 17 years old at the time of the killing. At trial Knowles said that he and Henry Hays killed Donald "in order to show Klan strength in Alabama".
In 1987, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) brought a civil case, Donald v. United Klans of America, on behalf Donald's family against the United Klans of America for being responsible in the lynching of Donald.Unable to come up with the $7 million in damages awarded by the jury, the UKA was forced to turn over its national headquarters to Donald's mother, who sold the property. This lawsuit resulted in the bankruptcy of the UKA. The organization split up in 1987.
During the civil trial, Knowles said that he was "carrying out the orders" of Bennie Jack Hays, Henry Hays's father, and a long time Shelton lieutenant.The trial ended with a guilty verdict, and Knowles, charged with "…violating Donald's civil rights…", received a sentence of life in prison. Hays was charged a few months later with the murder of Donald, he was found guilty, and sentenced to death. Hays was executed on 6 June 1997.
In the spring of 1979, 20 UKA members were indicted in Birmingham, Alabama for violent racial episodes in Talladega County, Alabama. Three members pleaded guilty, while 10 others were found guilty.One of the violent racial episodes included, "...firing into the homes of officers of the NAACP".
In the 1990s the UKA experienced a resurgence in the activity of its members who returned to the teachings of the Imperial Wizard, Col. William Joseph Simmons, who founded and led the second Ku Klux Klan from 1915 to 1939. Under Simmons' leadership, the second Klan operated as a fraternal organization, a style that is still practiced by the UKA in the 21st century.[ citation needed ] It has several active Klaverns in twenty nine states, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The UKA's membership is not precisely known. Its leadership is believed to be weak and its activities are limited to ceremonial practices with no clear political agenda.[ citation needed ]
In 1998, a complaint was filed against Roy Frankhouser, Grand Dragon of the UKA in Pennsylvania. He had been harassing Bonnie Jouhari, a white woman who worked at the Reading-Berks Human Relations Council in the state of Pennsylvania. Her job was to help people who had been targeted and discriminated against. Frankhouser threatened her and her daughter, Pilar D. Horton.After she unsuccessfully tried to sue Frankhouser, the SPLC decided to represent Jouhari. The case ended with Frankhouser having to complete community service, making a public apology to Jouhari and her daughter, and completing a certain number of hours in sensitivity training.
During the summer of 2013, leaflets purporting to be from the UKA were found in Milford, Connecticut. The leaflets advertised a neighborhood watch, telling residents they can "sleep soundly" knowing the UKA is on patrol. These actions were condemned by town and state leadership.On June 29, 2013 leaflets bearing the same message were also left overnight in the driveways of several homes in Burien, Washington, 10 miles south of Seattle. The incident was reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Burien Police. According to a regional Anti-Defamation League official, the incarnation of the UKA responsible for the flyers was unconnected to the older, defunct organization.
The Ku Klux Klan, commonly shortened to the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist terrorist hate group whose primary targets are African Americans as well as Jews, immigrants, leftists, homosexuals, Catholics, Muslims, and atheists.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an American 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, it is known for its legal cases against white supremacist groups, its classification of hate groups and other extremist organizations, and for promoting tolerance education programs. The SPLC was founded by Morris Dees, Joseph J. Levin Jr., and Julian Bond in 1971 as a civil rights law firm in Montgomery, Alabama. Bond served as president of the board between 1971 and 1979.
David Curtiss "Steve" Stephenson was an American convicted rapist and murderer who in 1923 was appointed Grand Dragon of the branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana and head of Klan recruiting for seven other states. Later that year, he led those groups to independence from the national KKK organization. Amassing wealth and political power in Indiana politics, he was one of the most prominent national Klan leaders. "He was viewed as responsible for reviving the Klan and widening its base, and considered the most powerful man in Indiana". He had close relationships with numerous Indiana politicians, especially Governor Edward L. Jackson.
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a white supremacist terrorist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday, September 15, 1963. Four members of a local Ku Klux Klan chapter planted 19 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the steps located on the east side of the church.
White Aryan Resistance (WAR) is a white supremacist neo-Nazi organization in the United States founded and led by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon Tom Metzger. It is based in Warsaw, Indiana, and is incorporated as a business.
Viola Fauver Liuzzo was an American housewife and civil rights activist. In March 1965, Liuzzo heeded the call of Martin Luther King Jr. and traveled from Detroit, Michigan, to Selma, Alabama, in the wake of the Bloody Sunday attempt at marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Liuzzo participated in the successful Selma to Montgomery marches and helped with coordination and logistics. At the age of 39, while driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was fatally hit by shots fired from a pursuing car containing Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members Collie Wilkins, William Eaton, Eugene Thomas, and Gary Thomas Rowe, the latter of whom was actually an undercover informant working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The Imperial Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (IKA) is a white supremacist, white nationalist, neo-Nazi paramilitary organization. Until the late 2000s, it was the second largest Klan group in the United States, and the largest at one point in the early 2000s. In 2008, the IKA was reported to have at least 23 chapters in 17 states, most of which were small.
The lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama, on March 21, 1981, was one of the last reported lynchings in the United States. Several Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members beat and killed Michael Donald, a 19-year-old African-American, and hung his body from a tree. One perpetrator, Henry Hays, was executed by electric chair in 1997, while another, James Knowles, was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty and testifying against Hays. A third man was convicted as an accomplice and also sentenced to life in prison, and a fourth was indicted but died before his trial could be completed.
Home of the Brave is a 2004 documentary film about Viola Liuzzo, an American anti-racist activist during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
The White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a Ku Klux Klan organization active in the United States. They originated in Mississippi and Louisiana in the early 1960s under the leadership of Samuel Bowers, its first Imperial Wizard. The White Knights of Mississippi were formed in 1964, and they included roughly 200 members of the Original Knights of Louisiana. The White Knights were not interested in holding public demonstrations or in letting any information about themselves get out to the masses. Similar to the United Klans of America (UKA), the White Knights of Mississippi were very secretive about their group. Within a year, their membership was up to around six thousand, and they had Klaverns in over half of the counties in Mississippi. By 1967, the number of active members had shrunk to around four hundred.
Robert Marvin Shelton was a former car-tire salesman and printer who became nationally famous as the Imperial Wizard of United Klans of America (UKA), a Ku Klux Klan group.
The Indiana Klan was a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, a secret society in the United States that organized in 1915 to promote ideas of racial superiority and affect public affairs on issues of Prohibition, education, political corruption, and morality. It was strongly white supremacist against African Americans, and also Catholics and Jews, whose faiths were commonly associated with Irish, Italian, Balkan, and Slavic immigrants and their descendants. In Indiana, the Klan did not tend to practice overt violence but used intimidation in certain cases, whereas nationally the organization practiced illegal acts against minority ethnic and religious groups.
Arthur J. Hanes served as mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, between 1961 and 1963, a tumultuous time that saw the city become a focal point in the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement during the Birmingham campaign. Hanes, who served just one term as mayor, was part of a three-man commission that ran the city, a trio which included police commissioner Eugene (Bull) Connor. Hanes would also serve as legal counsel for defendants in two important murder cases connected to the civil rights movement.
Roy Everett Frankhouser, Jr., was a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, a member of the American Nazi Party, a government informant, and a security consultant to Lyndon LaRouche. Frankhouser was reported by federal officials to have been arrested at least 142 times. In 2003 he told a reporter, "I'm accused of everything from the sinking of the Titanic to landing on the moon." He was convicted of federal crimes in at least three cases, including dealing in stolen explosives and obstruction of justice. Irwin Suall, of the Anti-Defamation League, called Frankhouser "a thread that runs through the history of American hate groups".
This article is about crime in the U.S. state of Alabama.
The U.S. Klans, officially, the U.S. Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc. was the dominant Ku Klux Klan in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The death of its leader in 1960, along with increased factionalism, splits and competition from other groups led to its decline by the mid-to-late 1960s.
The National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a Klan faction that has been around since November 1963. In the sixties, the National Knights were the main competitors against Robert Shelton's United Klans of America.
The Association of Georgia Klans, also known as the Associated Klans of Georgia was a Klan faction organized by Dr. Samuel Green in 1944, and led by him until his death in 1949. At its height the organization had klaverns in each of Georgia's 159 counties, as well as klaverns in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida. It also had connections with klaverns and kleagles in Ohio and Indiana. After Green's death, however, the organization foundered as it split into different factions, was hit with a tax lien and was beset by adverse publicity. It was moribund by the time of the Supreme Court's "Black Monday" ruling in 1954. A second Association of Georgia Klans was formed when Charles Maddox led dissatisfied members out of the U.S. Klans in 1960. This group appears to have folded into James Venable's National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan by 1965. There is also a current Klan group by that name.
Gary Thomas Rowe Jr., known in Witness Protection as Thomas Neil Moore, was a paid informant and agent provocateur for the FBI. As an informant, he infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan to monitor and disrupt it, and incited violence as part of the FBI's COINTELPRO project. Rowe was accused of participating in and helping to plan violent Klan activity against African Americans and civil rights groups.
Line of Fire: The Morris Dees Story is a 1991 American drama film directed by John Korty and written by James G. Hirsch and Charles Rosin. The film stars Corbin Bernsen, Jenny Lewis, Sandy Bull, John M. Jackson, Angela Bassett and James Staley. The film premiered on NBC on January 21, 1991.