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January 23, 2015


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If I am not mistaken, the protestors were unarmed that how was it not a massacre?

Brian Clarke

I could be wrong (and going back and watching the news footage, it appears I may be) but my recollection is that a couple of the CWP marchers were armed with handguns because there had been threats made and they (legitimately) feared a violent confrontation. The Klansmen and Nazis, however, were much more heavily armed (semiautomatic rifles, shotguns, handguns) and the marchers way outgunned. They did, however, take cover and return fire (although it is very hard to tell that from the footage) -- so perhaps I am primarily remembering the official line from back in the day. However, there has never been a [real] question that the Klan/Nazis simply attacked the marchers and opened fire. Footage is here:

I grew up in Greensboro -- I was almost 7 at the time of the shootout -- and, in Greensboro back in the day, it was always referred to as the "Nazi-Klan Shootout" (not sure why the CWP was left out of this colloquial name). Going

I remember as a child that every trash day during the protracted litigation that followed there would be Klansmen or Nazis or CWP members going through the trash of the various local attorneys involved (most of whom were strong-armed into working on the case by Judge Robert Merhige (E.D.Va) who sat by designation after all the MDNC judges recused themselves) looking for ... something. I grew up with the kids of many of those lawyers. It was a strange time and we had little understanding of what was really going on.

I wholeheartedly agree that a historical marker is more than appropriate -- although perhaps one a little less propaganda-y than the one pictured. It is a dark chapter in Greensboro's history, but a significant one. As one of my UNC professors put in when I was in college (Prof. Jim Leloudis I think), Greensboro was always a "progressive paradox" when it came to civil rights and the like -- put on a progressive face, but acted the opposite. I think things have changed and the progressive slant in GSO is legit now. This would be an easy way to prove it.

Dave Garrow

Just in case anyone (i.e. Al!) is interested, I co-authored a *long* piece on those killings over 30 years ago, based in significant part on a good amount of time spent with informant Ed Dawson:

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