CODENAME GREENKIL: The 1979 Greensboro Killings by Elizabeth Wheaton

CODENAME GREENKIL: The 1979 Greensboro Killings

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A definitive, evenhanded account of the violence at Greensboro, N.C., in 1979, when Klansmen and neo-Nazis attacked a confrontational group of Communist Workers Party (CWP) demonstrators, killing five of them. In a sense, it was a watershed for both groups. The CWP had decided that the only answer to continued KKK harassment was ""military counteraction,"" and thus, on Nov. 9th, 1979, staged a ""Death to the Klan"" march near a local housing project known as Morningside Homes. For their part, the KKK (with a few assorted racists) felt that now was the time to crash a direct challenge to their pride and strength. Videotapes of the shooting caught KKK members hunting down and killing five CWP members (and wounding eight), but all-white juries on both a state and federal level acquitted them on all charges, believing their claim of self-defense. (Wheaton points out that surviving CWP members crippled themselves by refusing to cooperate with the government in prosecuting the Klan.) This is a somewhat byzantine tale of conspiracy, counter-conspiracy, and infiltration (the FBI had an agent placed within the Klan who failed to tell his superiors about the KKK's plans) that has its roots deep in the 60's; what's most interesting, though, are the stories of idealistic CWP workers like Dr. James Waller and Dr. Michael Nathan (both killed), and Dr. Paul Bermanzohn (crippled for life), who gave up a great deal in terms of career and prestige to be in Greensboro that fateful morning. As Wheaton points out, they may have too innocently challenged the KKK but their commitment and social consciousness shines through, nearly ten years later. In sum: a compelling, thoughtful account.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia Press