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WW in 1982: Mass protest drives Klan out

Gov’t defense of KKK sparks rebellion

Published Aug 29, 2008 7:55 PM

Washington, D.C., Nov. 27–An attempt by the Ku Klux Klan to march today in this predominantly Black city was stopped and the Kluxers were run out of town by thousands of angry anti-KKK protesters.

While the Klan was driven off, the coming of these genocidal lynchers to D.C., the protection given them by the government and a police attack on anti-Klan protesters sparked an uprising inside this city.

Unable at Lafayette Park to get at the KKK itself, and outraged that the Reagan administration had given the green light for such notorious killers to enter the heart of the country’s capital city behind a protective phalanx of at least 1,000 cops, large numbers of Black youth, and many others as well, jammed all the streets radiating from the White House to McPherson Square where the All-Peoples Congress was holding an anti-KKK rally.

People were furious. Over 60 percent of D.C. Black youth can’t find a job; more than 100 families had been evicted from their homes the previous Saturday; and hunger stalked countless homeless on Thanksgiving.

The national government thought it appropriate to, on the one hand, propose a tax on the employed while simultaneously lavishing at least a million dollars providing police bodyguards for sadistic bigots!

The cops as always did the task assigned them by the federal authorities who rule the District: give kid-glove treatment to the racists and come down on the people with an iron fist.

Around 12:30 p.m. the police started to push into the angry crowd on 15th and H Streets with their horses. Jabbing with clubs, the mounted cops cursed and shouted for everyone to “clear the area.”

The many who had come to confront the Klan retorted bitterly, “Take off that blue uniform and put on your white sheet!” “Namibia! Namibia!” (in reference to the manner South African police repress the Africans of that nation), and “Death to the Klan!”

Within seconds after those in the front lines had been knocked down by the horses, the air was filled with objects thrown at the police. Soon the exploding sound of tear and pepper gas could be heard, and then the gas itself enveloped several blocks, especially H and I Streets.

That did it. Within one hour almost everyone in sight was engaged in a full-scale running battle with the cops.

Political rebellion

The fight raged intensely at Madison and H during the first hour of what was to become the most militant clash between the police and the population of D.C. in over a decade and the most politically motivated Black rebellion here since the assassination of Martin Luther King. In short, by defending the hated Klan and by attacking those who wanted to attack racism, the cops ignited the uprising.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon, motorcycle cops lobbed scores of tear gas bombs. Foot patrols hurled rocks, grabbed and beat anyone they could catch, arresting 32 men and women.

Uncowed by these assaults, the crowd constantly regrouped and continually charged, fearless and defiant. Along with the Black youth—who constituted the majority of the heroic element which today acted as the vanguard of society against racism—[email protected], white, Native, Asian and other people also joined the battle. In one stunning episode, they pushed the cops back almost to the White House.

Only an all-out charge by 40 mounted police up Vermont Ave. and adjacent sidewalks succeeded in briefly dispersing the throng. But as many times as the cops tried to drive the people from the area, the anti-racists always regrouped and fought back.

Banks lost their windows, and unmarked patrol cars were overturned within sight of the executive mansion. Even when police dropped their nightsticks and pulled guns, even when they committed near homicidal violence like shoving a man through a plate glass window, the people remained in the streets in magnitude, laughing and jeering and relishing their victory over the KKK and the cops, who seemed overwhelmed.

Carrie Morris, a Black woman who is a leader of the APC in Atlanta, told this reporter at the rally, “The Klan has been murdering people for many years and shouldn’t be allowed to demonstrate in Washington. When I was a child 10 years old, I lived in a country town and we couldn’t go out at night without hiding in the bushes because of the Klan. I remember them burning crosses right at the polling places and I say we put a stop to it now!”

Today the Klan was stopped, the terrorists were driven out—a humiliating defeat shared by both the KKK and the cops who protected them. It was a defeat too for the Reaganite bigotry which the hooded fascists dreamed would bring back the era when the Klan kept down millions with the lash, rifle and noose.