Saturday, November 15, 2008

The SPLC Wins Another Legal Battle Against Hate Groups

If you're looking for an organization to donate money to, send a check the Southern Poverty Law Center's way.

They not only have been documenting hate groups in this country, under the leadership of SPLC founding attorney Morris Dees they have taken an active role toward breaking them financially.

The SPLC strategy has been so successful that trial testimony in the Gruver case revealed a 1999 Klan plot to kill Morris Dees was broken up by the FBI.

There are millions of reasons why hate groups want to see the Alabama-born Dees expeditiously depart this Earth.

After the 1981 Mobile, AL lynching death of Michael Donald, in 1987 the SPLC on behalf of his mother Beulah Mae Donald filed a civil lawsuit against the United Klans of America. It resulted in a $7 million verdict that put the notorious United Klans of America out of business. The UKA was the group responsible for the 1961 beatdown of the Freedom Riders in the Birmingham bus station, the 1963 bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church and the killing of Viola Liuzzo.

In the wake of the 1988 killing of Ethiopian college student Mulugeta Seraw in Portland, OR by three racist skinheads affiliated with the White Aryan Resistance, the SPLC sued on behalf of his father and won a $12.5 million verdict that forced WAR leader Tom Metzger to sell his California home to satisfy the judgment and put WAR out of the hatemongering business.

In 2000 the SPLC won a $6.3 million jury verdict in the Keenan v. Aryan Nations case that forced Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler to give up the group's 20 acre Idaho compound.

The latest Southern Poverty Law Center legal victory against an odious Klan group has been raging not too far from me in Brandenburg, KY.

After three days of testimony, yesterday a jury awarded $2.5 million in damages to 19 year old Jordan Gruver. In July 2006 the then 16 year old teen who is of Panamanian and Native American descent was severely beaten by members of the Imperial Klans of America who were recruiting new members at the Meade County Fair.

They taunted him with inaccurate ethnic slurs, spat on him and doused him with alcohol. Two men identified as Edwards and Hensley knocked Gruver to the ground and repeatedly struck and kicked him in an attack that left the teen with a broken jaw, a broken left forearm, two cracked ribs and multiple cuts and bruises.

According to the SPLC, The IKA members mistakenly thought he was an illegal Latino immigrant and not an American citizen.

The all-white jury found that the Imperial Klans of America and its founder wrongfully targeted Gruver, who is an American citizen of Panamanian and Native-American descent.

Gruver filed the personal injury lawsuit last year seeking up to $6 million in damages from the Imperial Klans of America and two of its leaders, Imperial Wizard Ron Edwards and Grand Titan Jarred R. Hensley. The jury of seven men and seven women deliberated for five hours before rendering their verdict.

"The people of Meade County, Kentucky, have spoken loudly and clearly. And what they've said is that ethnic violence has no place in our society, that those who promote hate and violence will be held accountable and made to pay a steep price," Dees said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says the Imperial Klans of America is the second largest KKK group after the Brotherhood of Klans Knights, based in Marion, Ohio. SPLC spokesman Booth Gunter said there are 34 named Klan organizations across the country with 155 separate chapters.

The Anti-Defamation League, who also tracks hate group activity, estimates there are more than 40 different Klan groups, with as many as 5,000 members in more than 100 chapters, or 'klaverns' across the country.

So congratulations to the SPLC for taking out another hate group and sending them the message that if you engage in inciting hate violence to the point where someone is harmed or killed, you will pay for it not just with jail time, but financially as well.

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