Monday, June 27, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

Two years after the murders ... a shoot-out in Philadelphia (Sept. 29, 1966)

Continued ...

Details on Philadelphia Murders

Sovereignty Commission Online

In this fascinating report, investigator Hopkins on Jan. 26, 1965, gives more specifics on the lynching of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney. Hopkins also reports that James Jordan was questioned for ten hours and offered bribes to tell what he knew.

Continued ...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Book Review: "The Informant"

"White liberals and moderates were driven to cover by “respectable” White Citizens Councils throughout the Bible Belt. For those of us who were in the South before and after the civil rights battle began, it is easy to believe James Silver, an Ole Miss historian, was right on the mark when he called Mississippi (and could have added Alabama as well) a 'closed society.'” (Murray Polner)

Review of Gary May's "The Informant: The FBI, The Ku Klux Klan, and The Murder of Viola Liuzzo," (Yale University Press, 2005)

Gary May, Professor of History at the University of Delaware, has also written China Scapegoat: The Diplomatic Ordeal of John Carter Vincent, about a foreign service officer and veteran China hand, fired by rampaging McCarthyites and also Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington, another victim of the domestic Cold War then raging.

He now turns his attention to the civil rights era in Alabama when a Detroit housewife, Viola Liuzzo, a mother of five, was killed after she went South to do her bit to help win voting rights for blacks.

Like millions of Americans who watched on TV, Liuzzo was incensed and shocked by the violence against civil rights marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. There, police and state troopers wielding whips, baseball bats, cattle prods, and then using tear gas attacked the marchers. It was quickly dubbed Bloody Sunday.

Born into a poor family, Liuzzo spent her early years in Georgia and Tennessee. “Experience had taught her,” May notes, “to be an underdog fighting the injustices of an indifferent world, although the family didn’t embrace the racism that often characterized impoverished southern whites.” Inspired by the Pettus assault, she left her family and studies at Wayne State University for Alabama to work for civil rights for the people she watched being assailed on TV. Almost at the same time, a white Unitarian minister James Reeb, unjustly forgotten, was struck by four thugs as his murderer screamed while he lay dying on a Southern street, his skull fractured, “Here’s how it feels to be a nigger down here.”

The Informants is a model of painstaking historical research coupled with an exemplary writing style, vivid, dramatic, and suspenseful. Serious historical writing May proves need not be dull.

What is new and different about the book are May’s portraits of Klan members and primarily the FBI informant, Gary Thomas Rowe, a violent, angry liar, who loved nothing better than hanging around cops, was planted inside the Klan, in Bessemer, Alabama, where many members and sympathizers worked in the steel mills, their activities often approved, subtly and otherwise, by Birmingham’s ruling elite. (Readers might also turn to Diane McWhorter’s fascinating Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution).

White liberals and moderates were driven to cover by “respectable” White Citizens Councils throughout the Bible Belt. For those of us who were in the South before and after the civil rights battle began, it is easy to believe James Silver, an Ole Miss historian, was right on the mark when he called Mississippi (and could have added Alabama as well) a “closed society.” Two rabbis in Jackson and Hattiesburg, Perry Nussbaum and Charles Mantinband, for example, publicly denounced the bigoted underclass but also went directly after their far wealthier supporters. It’s easy to forget what the Deep South was like during those years. Both states were under the control of the most lawless elements. A police state, a white southerner called it. Another described it as fascism. Whatever it was, phones were tapped, mail opened, faculty fired for expressing dissenting opinions, and clergy warned. If not acquiescence, then silence was demanded—and too often received.

Still, some whites tried to fight back. David R. Davies’ excellent paper, “Missisippi Journalists, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Closed Society, 1960-1964,” presented at the 1994 convention of the American Journalism Historian Association, describes “five newspaper editors who befriended blacks and challenged the racial mores of Mississippi” even though their papers struggled against the loss of advertisers and readers. Hodding Carter Jr.’s Delta Democrat-Times managed to hang on. One who did not was P.D. East and his Petal Paper, once posted a fake ad in 1957 “offering prime lumber for making crosses” to be burned on front lawns and then, his circulation sinking, fled to Alabama.

A strange choice, perhaps, but after all East was a born and bred southerner once part of the disappearing southern working class white liberals. Certainly, Alabama was no better with George Wallace as its Governor and sheriffs like Bull Connor and Jim Clark dominating their counties. It is in this environment of poor white class resentments and the devastating history of slavery that the fourth wave of the Klan could rise again and flourish, even into the north and Middle West.

To the FBI, under the unaccountable J. Edgar Hoover, never a supporter of the civil rights movement, was handed the task of rooting out the Klan. As they had done inside the Communist Party (Victor Navasky, in his recent book A Matter of Opinion, quotes a former FBI agent poking fun writing in The Nation about the use of CP informants: “through its dues-paying FBI contingent, it had become he largest single financial contributor to the coffers of the Communist Party”) and also within anti-Vietnam War ranks, they recruited spies, paying them, rendering them immune to persecution for crimes they might commit, and hoping for positive results.

The problem, as May points out, is that Rowe, a member of Eastview Klavern No. 13 in Bessemer, rose rapidly within Klan ranks. He joined in meting out savage beatings of blacks and white sympathizers. When the Klan beat Freedom Riders badly in the Birmingham bus terminal in 1961, none of the attackers, including Rowe, were deemed culpable, because local police were in on the plot. The FBI, which had advance knowledge about the assault, refused to intervene because they wanted Klan members to trust Rowe. May speculates that Rowe may well have been involved in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham where four small black girls died. “Hoover,” May goes on, “blocked persecution…in part to protect Rowe” and another FBI snitch, who was even more dangerous than Rowe.

He also suggests, but cannot prove, that while Rowe was present in the automobile shadowing Liuzzo’s car, he urged another Klan member to kill Liuzzo. Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center once accurately portrayed Rowe as “a loud, bragging, know-it-all thug who had been made a hero for what would have sent most men to prison.”

But thanks to Gary May, we do know that the murder of Viola Liuzzo took a devastating toll on her family. Some misguided Americans wrote her family obscene and bigoted letters and castigating their husband and mother for going South to help other Americans.

For May, this business of using criminals as spies raises “the use of questionable, even illegal means to achieve a beneficial end,” a question he later suggests raises a new set of questions in today’s “war against terrorism.”

During the sixties, the FBI claimed to have 2,000 Rowe-like informers inside various Klan groups. Much about them is still secret. The FBI will not allow researchers access to their files, information how well or badly they did, and what crimes, if any, they committed while serving as informers. “It is unlikely that such records will become available to historians in the near future,” May explains, “because the Bureau fiercely guards informant identities and activities.”

Posted by Murray Polner on Sunday, June 19, 2005 at 4:23 PM
Amazon Link

Friday, June 24, 2005

One apology fits all?

While surfing through Sovereignty Commission documents, I ran into this eight page speech. No title, no authorship is listed. But it is quite interesting. As you read through, you will see mention of the "communists" brought in for Freedom Summer, along with what Emmett Till "really said" to get him lynched.

It's an apology for Mississippi... and an attempt to get out the PR machine. Interesting propoganda. sk

Thursday, June 23, 2005


HungryBlues:So who is to blame for this Mississippi Mess - the lonely manslaughter charge against one aging Klansman in the lynching of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman? Ben Greenberg of Hungry Blues blog responds the finger points beyond the Neshoba County prosecutor:

"My blog post was written in the heat of anger on Tuesday. I stand by the assessment even if I'd moderate my tone were I to write it again. I say that Jim Hood is lying because he did not do his duty. He did not bring all the witnesses to the stand. He did not request help (i.e., evidence!!) from Justice Department and request a special prosecutor, as has been done in most of other civil rights era murder cases that have been reopened. Hood also did not give adequate time to reviewing the evidence for other possible indictments of the 9 other living suspects and has come out at various times and essentially admitted that he is purposefully pursuing Killen and only Killen.

It is most definitely called for to call out the racism in men like McIntyre and Killen, who are obviously birds of a feather. But the real changes won't be won unless those who are charged with pursuing justice and change are held to a high standard. I would argue that Jim Hood's complicity in protecting white, racist murderers is actually more dangerous than the obvious, cartoonish stuff of McIntyre. "

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

White Knights of the KKK recruiting brochure

Sovereignty Commission Online

"...Looking for, and enlisting ONLY: Sober, Intelligent, Courageous, Christian, American, White men who are consciously and fully aware of the basic FACT that their physical life and earthly destiny are absolutely bound up with the Survival of this Nation, under God."

Now if these guys ever need some help with recruitment ...

"The defense rested Monday after a former mayor testified that the Klan was a 'peaceful organization,'" reported Ben Greenberg of HungryBlues.

"Harlan Majure, who was mayor of this Mississippi town in the 1990s, said Killen was a good man and that the part-time preacher's Klan membership would not change his opinion. Majure said the Klan 'did a lot of good up here' and said he was not personally aware of the organization's bloody past."

Majure: "As far as I know it's a peaceful organization."

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: "SCR ID # 10-60-0-10-1-1-1 "

What about the other men who killed three young CORE volunteers? Here's a clipping from the Sovereignty Commission files that shows all names of those initially arrested...

Monday, June 20, 2005

New York Pathologist was "horrified" at what happened to James Chaney

Sovereignty Commission Online

Pathologist David Spain took the risk of coming into Mississippi to examine James Chaney's body. It did not take long for Sovereignty Commission invetigators to "check him out." Here's their first report ..

Then a Jackson pathologist, Dr. Bill Featherston, asked the Sovereignty Commission to file a breach of ethics charge against Dr. Spain (for seeking the truth?).

But even the Catholics were against Mississippi!

Will any of Dr. Spain's observations be used in the trial of Preacher Killen? One has to wonder. Dr. Spain's report, regardless, is a Must Read.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"Cheat Sheets" for Sovereignty Commission Speakers

Sovereignty Commission Online
For a time, the Sovereignty Commission sponsored a speaker's bureau to go into the North and explain why the southern way of life worked so well (or something like this). Here are some practice Q & A's for speakers... "Do you believe that the majority of Mississippi Negroes prefer segregated schools...?

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

After the murder of Emmett Till, a black McComb minister wrote to Lt. Governor Carroll Gartin in August of 1957 to suggest that something must be done regarding the violence against negroes. Rev. Hollis N. Turner's nine page letter (following Gartin's aloof letter to Ney Gore of the Sovereignty Commission) tragically goes through a number of rapes and murders that have been perpetrated against people in or near Magnolia and McComb.

Betty Butler was “killed a few steps north of the overhead bridge” in McComb, “by a sixteen-year-old white boy

The Kidnap/murder of a 16-year-old white girl residing in Walthall County by four white men is reported next. The minister writes the girl was taken from her bedroom, carried into a swamp and raped. One man confessed, but was acquitted by an all-white jury in a trial in Magnolia, he states. No date is given.

Near the same spot, a 12-year-old girl is raped...

Continue here ... Sovereignty Commission Online

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: Detailed map of where car was located (murder of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman). (Anonymous source) "SCR ID # 2-112-1-44-1-1-1 "

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online In 1962 Aaron Henry's address book somehow became the possession of the Sovereignty Commission.The name of Jack Childs was found in the book (page 14) and indexed. Childs was an FBI informant in the Robert Kennedy - Martin Luther King investigation.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission OnlineSatterfield requests $200,000 to match funds from "Anonymous Doner". Money would fund a permanent organization in Washington, D. C., to fight civil rights.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online "Follow the money..." (Ben Bradley, Washington Post/Watergate)

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission OnlineAttorneys from ACLU, CDLC and NAACP discuss growing problem of finding local attorneys willing and able to work on civil rights cases.Satterfield (former ABA chief) states that Mississippi lawyers do not have to represent "outside agitators."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission OnlinePercy Greene offers to tell Sovereignty Commission of contacts made by George Harris, member of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission, of the identity of "any of Harris's contacts in Mississippi."

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: "SCR ID # 2-62-1-3-1-1-1 " License tags, names, addresses of Coahoma County African of many such lists. Dated December 1958.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: "SCR ID # 2-134-0-1-1-1-1 " A Greenville lawyer asks the Sovereignty Commission to spy on a black corporation. Looking for "integrationists." Also asks for corporate law changes to ease such spying.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
Eastland, Barnett, Johnston and Satterfield - getting together on anti civil rights publicity.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
Eastland's confidence violated by Sovereignty Commission regarding civil rights bill. The senator is not happy with Erle Johnston.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
65-page document describing Mississippi's fight (CCFAF) against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Shows heavy involvement of (drum roll...) William Loeb of New Hampshire and James Kilpatrick of Virginia.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
"Anti-Riot" Amendment suggested for inclusion in Civil Rights Bill.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
Erle Johnston, longtime director of the Sovereignty Commission, swore the Commission did not interfere with voting. But this report filed in 1966 by investigator A. L. Hopkins is one of many examples disproving Johnston's statement.

Doddsville, site of the Eastland Plantation and home of the late white supremacist Senator James O. Eastland. Posted by Hello

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online: "SCR ID # 13-50-0-8-1-1-1 "
Every so often, someone working at the Sovereignty Commission would copy an entire manual, report or book that was particularly interesting. This is a six page brochure on the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs of American that provides a good explanation of dubois philosophy. Must have scared the be-jeezus out of white Citizens Counselors..

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online

"Sovereignty" outlined by Oxford lawyer for Erle Johnston.

Sovereignty Commission Online

Sovereignty Commission Online
Someone got paid for this morsel of information ... a "snitch" report.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


HungryBlues: "Tuesday, May 24, 2005
'they chose to indict Mr. Killen and only Mr. Killen'
May 24, 2005
Killen bid to toss case denied
By Jerry Mitchell
The Clarion Ledger
PHILADELPHIA � The judge presiding over reputed Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen's upcoming murder trial in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers rejected a defense request Monday to dismiss the charges.
Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon said the defense had failed to show Killen was being 'selectively prosecuted.'
He said Killen's June 13 trial will take place as scheduled. Killen, an 80-year-old sawmill operator and part-time preacher, has insisted he had nothing to do with the June 21, 1964, killings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. . . .
In an unusual occurrence, a defense attorney and a prosecutor testified in the hearing Monday.
James McIntyre of Jackson, who represented the sheriff in the 1967 trial and is on Killen's defense team, testified there were other suspects in this case besides his client who are still alive.
District Attorney Mark Duncan acknowledged eight suspects are still alive and said Neshoba County grand jurors could have indicted all eight or others whose names arose in the investigation.
After being presented all the information from the state's investigation, he said, 'they chose to indict Mr. Killen and only Mr. Killen.'
(Whole thing.)
Posted by Benjamin T. Greenberg on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at 12:44 PM in breaking news, civil rights movement, neshoba murders, race and racism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) "