June 2, 2006 – An independent commission looking into the 1979 massacre of labor activists by white supremacists has put most of the blame on police for not acting to pre-empt the violence.
- Community Seeks Truth 25 Years After â€˜Massacreâ€™ (Mar 15, 2005)
The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, consisting of seven members chosen by a community nomination and voting process, spent more than a year looking into the "context, causes, sequence and consequence" of a November 3, 1979 confrontation between labor the Communist Workers Party and the Ku Klux Klan. The incident ended with five activists dead and several wounded.
As previously reported by The NewStandard, white supremacists attacked an anti-Klan rally organized by Communist labor activists who were organizing black workers. The Commission concluded that some activists in the crowd fired back after they were attacked.
The Commission determined that Klan members went to the rally intending to provoke a violent confrontation, and that they fired on demonstrators without being attacked first. It also found that the Greensboro Police Department had infiltrated the Klan and, through a paid informant, knew of the white supremacistsâ€™ plans and the strong potential for violence.
"The majority of commissioners find the single most important element that contributed to the violent outcome of the confrontation was the absence of police," wrote the commissioners in their report. "The police were fully aware of all this information, and in fact their own paid informant, the late Klansman Eddie Dawson, acted in a leadership role in bringing the two sides into contact."
Though news media caught some of the perpetrators of the shooting on film, white juries declined to convict them, denying closure the Commission now seeks to deliver.