Lawsuit Seeks to Bankrupt the Ku Klux Klan

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    Lawsuit seeks to bankrupt the Ku Klux Klan

    By Ann O'Neill
    CNN

    (CNN) -- It was a mismatch from the start: a 16-year-old boy, 5-feet, 3-inches tall and 150 pounds, against two reputed Ku Klux Klansmen, the biggest standing 6-feet, 5-inches and tipping the scales at 300 pounds.

    Jordan Gruver, an American citizen of Panamanian descent, took a beating that July day in 2006 at the Meade County fair in Brandenberg, Kentucky. He was called names, spat upon, doused with alcohol, knocked to the ground and punched and kicked.

    When the blows stopped, Gruver had a broken jaw and left forearm, two cracked ribs and cuts and bruises.

    Now, with the weight of the Southern Poverty Law Center behind him, Gruver is fighting back in a civil courtroom. Gruver and the center are suing the Imperial Klans of America, and they hope to win damages large enough to put the supremacist group out of business.

    An all-white jury -- seven men and seven women -- was chosen Wednesday to hear Gruver's lawsuit against the Klan and two of its members. They are identified in court papers as "Imperial Wizard" Ron Edwards, and Jarred R. Hensley, the Ohio Klan's "Grand Titan."

    Two others -- Joshua Cowles, the Klan's "Exalted Cyclops," and Andrew W. Watkins, the Klan's "Imperial Gothi" and webmaster -- have settled out of court, according to a pretrial brief.

    The lawsuit identifies Cowles, Hensley and Watkins as the men who confronted Gruver and insulted him with ethnic epithets while on a recruiting mission at the fair. Hensley and Watkins, the suit alleges, knocked Gruver to the ground and repeatedly struck and kicked him.

    The two men already have gone through the criminal courts, striking plea bargains and serving time in the Kentucky state prison system, according to court documents. The others were named as defendants because the Montgomery, Alabama-based center identified them as Klan officers at the time.

    Opening statements began under tight security. The center's co-founder, Morris Dees, alleged that Edwards "sent his agents out on a mission," adding, "It was while that mission that Jordan was hurt."

    Edwards, who is representing himself, told the jury he would prove he had nothing to do with the attack.

    "I'll prove that I teach them not to go out and commit violence," he said in his opening statement. "I'll prove I did not know they were there."
    He added, "I stay within the law. I don't break the law."

    At an earlier court deposition, Edwards demonstrated his contempt for the center and its lawsuit by tattooing a profane reference to it on his freshly shaved head.

    Hensley, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, told CNN affiliate WAVE on Wednesday that he already has paid a price for something he didn't do. He said the legal system was "corrupt," but that he was at the trial "because the law told me." He also is representing himself.


    The lawsuit alleges that Edwards, the supremacist group's founder, uses money from Klan dues, contributions and merchandise sales "as his own personal funds."

    He lives in a trailer on the Klan's heavily guarded, gated compound in rural Dawson Springs, Kentucky. The compound is the site of the Klan's annual white power rally and music festival, know as "Nordic Fest," according to the suit.

    It was at the compound, the suit alleges, that the Klan incited its members to use violence against minorities.

    The center is seeking to win a judgment that would allow it to seize up to $6 million in assets.

    "We want to win justice for Jordan to compensate him for his injuries and put this group out of business," said center spokesman Booth Gunter. "We've won a number of these suits in the past."

    In 2000, for example, the center won a $6.3 million jury verdict that forced Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler to give up the group's Idaho compound. In 1987, a $7 million verdict in Mobile, Alabama, targeted the United Klans of America.

    Richard Cohen, the law center's president, said, "The Imperial Klans of America is one of the largest Klan organizations in the country. It promotes violence and intimidation against racial and ethnic minorities, homosexuals and so-called 'race traitors.' While on a recruiting mission, members of this organization targeted and viciously beat our client solely because he has brown skin.

    "Our lawsuit seeks justice and compensation for the victim of this brutal hate crime. We also hope that the monetary damages will be sufficient to put the organization out of business and send a strong message to other hate groups and their followers that this type of racial violence will not be tolerated."

    The center says the Imperial Klans of America is the second largest KKK group after the Brotherhood of Klans, based in Marion, Ohio.

    Estimates of its total membership vary widely, but the center says it has about 23 chapters in 17 states.

    Gunter said Edwards' son, Steve, runs another group called the Supreme White Alliance, which has ties to two supremacists accused in a plot to don white tuxedos and assassinate Barack Obama.
     
  2. B_JasonDawgxxx

    B_JasonDawgxxx New Member

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    If Im not mistaken this worked once before.
     
  3. Principessa

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    Hate and evil have deep pockets. I'll believe it when I see it.
     
  4. B_JasonDawgxxx

    B_JasonDawgxxx New Member

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    I saw something on hbo once about a skinhead group. They were taken to court and lost every dime they had.
     
  5. Kassokilleri2ff

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    An all white jury...figures.
     
  6. camper joe

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    What a shame that the colors that can be found in a child's box of crayons is how these red-necks defined their world.

    I wish you could sue to take away their prejudices, but I am afraid that is impossible.
     
    #6 camper joe, Nov 12, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  7. Hugh Mann

    Hugh Mann New Member

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    I once attended a party in Montgomery for an SPLC lawyer who was leaving. I met a few of them, and they were all great people.

    Good for them...I wish them the best of luck against these scumbags.
     
  8. Principessa

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    Jury awards $2.5 million to teen beaten by Klan members

    By Ann O'Neill
    CNN

    (CNN) -- A jury awarded $2.5 million in damages on Friday to a Kentucky teenager who was severely beaten by members of a Ku Klux Klan group because they mistakenly thought he was an illegal Latino immigrant, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

    The jury found that the Imperial Klans of America and its founder wrongfully targeted 16-year-old Jordan Gruver, an American citizen of Panamanian and Native-American descent.

    The verdict included $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages against "Imperial Wizard" Ron Edwards.

    The law center said before the verdict that a large damage award could break the Klan group, allowing the teen and the law center to seize the group's assets, including its headquarters, a 15-acre compound in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.

    "We look forward to collecting every dime that we can for our client and to putting the Imperial Klans of America out of business," said SPLC founder and chief trial attorney Morris Dees, who tried the case.

    Gruver, backed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed the personal injury lawsuit last year seeking up to $6 million in damages from the Imperial Klans of America and two of its leaders -- Edwards and "Grant Titan" Jarred R. Hensley.

    An all-white jury of seven men and seven women deliberated for five hours after three days of testimony. The suit allegedthat Edwards, Hensley, and the Imperial Klans of America as a whole incited its members to use violence against minorities.

    "The people of Meade County, Kentucky, have spoken loudly and clearly. And what they've said is that ethnic violence has no place in our society, that those who promote hate and violence will be held accountable and made to pay a steep price," Dees said.

    According to testimony, three members of the Klan group confronted Gruver in July 2006 during a recruiting mission at the Meade County Fair in Brandenberg, Kentucky. They taunted him with ethnic slurs -- inaccurate ones -- spat on him and doused him with alcohol .Two of the men, including Hensley, knocked Gruver to the ground and repeatedly struck and kicked him.
    "All I could see was a bunch of feet," Gruver, now 19, told the jury. "As they were kicking me, I prayed to myself. I said, 'God, just please let me go. Please let me make it home.' "

    When the blows stopped, Gruver had a broken jaw, broken left forearm, two cracked ribs and cuts and bruises.

    He testified that he has suffered permanent nerve damage and psychological trauma. He doesn't leave his house and rarely sleeps more than two hours at a time because he has nightmares, CNN affiliate WLKY reported.

    Among the evidence the jury saw was a pair of red-laced, steel-toed boots. A police witness testified that Hensley wore the boots the night he and another Klansman attacked Gruver.

    Edwards acknowledged from the witness stand that the boots were the "weapon of choice" for skinheads and that the red laces carried special significance -- that "someone should shed blood for their race."

    Also revealed during testimony: An alleged Klan plot to kill the Southern Poverty Law Center's attorney, Morris Dees.

    Former Klansman Kale Kelly, once a member of Edwards' inner circle, testified he was told to kill Dees because of the center's lawsuit in Idaho against the Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi supremacist organization.

    The plot was thwarted by the FBI in 1999, according to testimony.
    Kelly, who since has left the group, cried on the witness stand during his testimony.

    Other former Klansmen also testified that they were encouraged to use violence. One said he was conditioned to kill.

    Gruver's assailants already have gone through the criminal courts, striking plea bargains and serving time in the Kentucky state prison system, according to court documents. The case was not treated as a hate crime.

    Dees alleged that on the night in question -- July 29 and 30, 2006 -- Edwards "sent his agents out on a mission." During that mission, which included recruiting and distributing Klan literature at the fair, Gruver was beaten because the men mistakenly believed he was an illegal immigrant.

    Edwards, who represented himself, told the jury he had nothing to do with the attack. "I stay within the law. I don't break the law," he said.

    At an earlier court deposition, Edwards demonstrated his contempt for the center and its lawsuit by tattooing a profane reference to it on his freshly shaved head.

    On its Web site, the Imperial Klans of America refers to itself as a Christian organization exercising its rights of free speech and assembly under the U.S. Constitution.

    The site carries this proviso: "If you are not of the White race, this Web site is not for the likes of YOU!" It then goes on to name the races and ethnicities it "hates," adding, "This is our God-given right."

    The Web site disavows violence or any kind of criminal activity.
    Edwards lives in a trailer on the Klan group's heavily guarded, gated compound in rural Dawson Springs. The compound is the site of the Klan's annual white power rally and music festival, know as "Nordic Fest," according to the suit.


    The Klan seems to thrive during times of political and financial turmoil, according to organizations that monitor its activities.


    There is no single, centralized Ku Klux Klan. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the Imperial Klans of America is the second largest KKK group after the Brotherhood of Klans Knights, based in Marion, Ohio.

    Booth Gunter, the center's spokesman, said there are 34 named Klan organizations across the country, with 155 separate chapters.
    The Anti-Defamation League estimates there are more than 40 different Klan groups, with as many as 5,000 members in more than 100 chapters, or "klaverns," across the country.

    It is not the first time the Southern Poverty Law Center has taken a supremacist group to court and won.
     
  9. NCbear

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    Morris Dees recently spoke at my university. We had better security that night than I'd ever seen outside of Federal buildings, airports, and venues in Washington, DC.

    He said that night that he and others in his organization were intent upon putting white supremacy groups--those that advocate violence--out of business.

    NCbear (who was patted down so well that he spoke up and said, "I don't know you, do I?" to a female security guard :eek::rolleyes::biggrin1:)
     
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