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Klan Holds First Greensboro March since 1979 Deaths, Five Arrested

June 7, 1987

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) _ About 150 white supremacists marched Sunday in the first Ku Klux Klan parade here since five radicals were killed in a confrontation eight years ago. Five people, including a man who fired a cap gun, were arrested.

No one was injured, and Klansmen appeared unaware that a gun had been fired, authorities said.

Three other people were arrested for trying to break into the parade line Sunday, and the fifth person was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, a knife.

The gunman, who was white, lunged from the crowd of bystanders and fired a black revolver as marchers passed the municipal building two blocks from where the parade was to disband, Greensboro Police Lt. J.L. Hightower.

Police yelled, ″Get down″ as the shot went off, sending bystanders diving for the pavement.

James Joseph Faulkner, 21, was grabbed from behind by a plainclothes officer who knocked the revolver out of his hand, Hightower said. Other officers knocked the man to the ground and handcuffed him, he said.

Faulkner was held in lieu of $10,000 bond on charges of disorderly conduct, said police Lt. W.R. Stafford.

As the marchers entered Government Plaza, where they held a rally, a couple of protesters held up a sign that read, ″If ignorance is bliss, these are some happy Klansmen.″

The Klansmen, who handed out membership cards to anyone who asked, were led by Virgil Griffin of Mount Holly, the imperial wizard, and Carroll Crawford of Mount Ulla, the grand dragon.

At the rally, Griffin made an impassioned speech through a bullhorn against abortion, saying there were ″slaughter clinics″ on every streetcorner.

″America is going down the tubes, ladies and gentlemen,″ Griffin said. ″And who’s suffering? The children are, white and black.″

Before the march, Crawford said the Klan did not pick Greensboro for the march because of the 1979 confrontation. He said the Klan was exercising its right to march in Greensboro, as it has in many other towns over the last several months.

″A lot of people call it a crisis because of 1979,″ Crawford said. ″We didn’t come to Greensboro just to come to Greensboro.″

Many of the marchers wore civilian clothes like T-shirts, but others were dressed in red, green, gold and purple robes or white robes with hoods.

Griffin said the purpose of the march was ″to organize white people to stand up against communism, abortion, integration and drugs. I’m working for my racist people. The NAACP is working for theirs.″

Ervin Brisbon, a black resident of Morningside Apartments, where the 1979 shootings took place, said he refused to be intimidated by the Klan. He watched the march with his two children, Ervin II, 7, and Marieno, 9.

″I brought my kids down to show them you do not have to be intimidated,″ Brisbon said. ″These people (the Klan) are teaching their children to intimidate people. I’m going to teach mine not to be intimidated.″

The Greensboro Coalition for Unity and Justice, which held an anti-Klan march Saturday along the same route the Klan used Sunday, also sponsored a peace festival and love rally in a park about two miles from downtown Sunday at the same time the Klan marched.

The Nov. 3, 1979, clash between Klansmen and the Communist Workers Party came as a crowd gathered for a ″Death To The Klan″ rally. Gunfire erupted after a caravan of Klansmen and American Nazis drove into the area.

Six Klansmen and Nazis were acquitted of murder in a 1980 trial. Nine Klansmen and Nazis were acquitted of conspiracy in federal court four years later.

After a 13-week trial of a $48 million civil suit in 1985, a federal jury in Winston-Salem ordered eight Ku Klux Klansmen, Nazis and police officers to pay damages to the wife of Dr. Michael Nathan, one of the five people killed.

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