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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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