The White Patriot Party Proudly Presents...
...by F.Glenn Miller
Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter
The Greensboro Shootout of November 3, 1979 was a deadly confrontation between factions of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party on one side and a group called the Communist Worker's Party on the other.
I was caught in the middle of the shootout and, in fact, the first gunshots were fired directly at me. The fight lasted 88 seconds and when the smoke settled, five communists lay dead or dying and another 12 communists were wounded. Two Klansmen were slightly wounded accidentally by shotgun pellets fired by other Klansmen.
I got involved with that affair by attending a White racist meeting in Louisburg, NC the week prior. A spokesman for the Christian Knights of the KKK also attended that meeting and during his speech, he announced that his group would stage an anti-communist demonstration in Greensboro the following Saturday (Nov. 3rd) in protest of a planned rally by the Communist Worker's Party. Myself and several other Nazis, and other activists there, promised to go to Greensboro to participate in the anti-communist demonstration.
And so, early on the morning of November 3, my wife Margie drove me the 25 miles from our home near Fuquay-Varina to fellow Nazi Jerry Hatcher's home in Raleigh, where all Nazi members who had promised to go were to meet, prior to driving to the Klan assembly area outside Greensboro.
No other Raleigh Nazis showed up. They all chickened out. So Jerry and I, taking his last four cans of beer, hit the road in his station wagon and headed for Greensboro.
I should say here that to my knowledge there were no plans on the part of our side to commit any illegal acts that day. We would simply stage a demonstration against the communists to show that at least some North Carolinians had the courage to stand up against Communists marching in the streets of our state. I did however, realize the potential for a violent confrontation, but not in my wildest dreams did I envision what would happen that day. The worse I expected was fistfights or maybe fights with clubs or baseball bats. But, neither Jerry nor I had any weapon of any kind whatsoever.
The Klan/Nazi demonstration was scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. and coincide with the CWP's planned march and rally. The CWP had billed their activities as a "Death-to-the-Klan-Rally," and they publicized the event with pamphlets and posters. They also mailed written invitation to several North Carolina Klan leaders, inviting them "to come out from under their hoods and face the wrath of the people." Their march was to begin inside an all Black neighborhood called Morningside Project.
Jerry and I arrived at the Klan assembly site, a small frame house belonging to a Klan member, just outside Greensboro, around 10:00 a.m. We found 60 or 70 people of all age groups already there, some inside the house and others milling around outside. A lot of Confederate battle flags were on display as well as several demonstration signs, one reading "God Bless James Earl Ray," though no one wore Klan robes or hoods. Everyone was in civilian-type clothing. I knew perhaps a third of those present, activists I'd met previously at various Klan and Nazi meetings.
After shaking hands with fellow activists, Jerry and I went inside the house where we found several men sitting around the kitchen table going over a map of Greensboro. Present, was Virgil Griffin, Grand Dragon of the Christian Knights of the KKK and his Security Chief, Eddy Dawson, who we were to learn, was the organizer and leader of this anti-Communist demonstration. Dawson asked Griffin a question and the answer was, "Hell, don't ask me, you're running this show."
One young redneck fellow offered Jerry and I a drink of moonshine whiskey "to booster our courage," but we declined, saying it was a little too early in the day. Another asked Griffin what we were to do if we were attacked by the Communists. Griffin said, "We'll just fight 'til we go down swinging."
It must be understood here that Eddy Dawson was, at this time, on the payroll of the Greensboro Police Department. This fact was revealed during the subsequent state and federal murder trials. This so-called Klan Leader, this Security Chief of the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, who actually planned and led the Klan demonstration, resulting in so much death and bloodshed, was not only a paid police informant, but his actions actually caused the deadly confrontation. Of course, none of us, with the possible exception of Virgil Griffin, knew this at the time.
Eddy Dawson gathered us all together outside the house a few minutes before 11:00 a.m. and explained briefly (and ambiguously) what was about to take pace. "We're gonna demonstrate against the Communists," he said. Then he went on to explain that we'd drive in a convoy to where the Communists were to begin their march in Morningside Project; that we'd drive through and heckle them; and we'd then drive to a shopping center mall where the Communists had announced they'd stage their big rally. Then, saying, "Let's go," he jumped into a pick-up truck driven by another Klansman, and they pulled out onto the highway. Everybody going along quickly jumped into cars, trucks, or vans and followed behind. Jerry's station wagon with Jerry behind the wheel, myself in the right front seat, and two other Nazis (Melano Caudle and his nephew) in the back, took the convoy position directly behind Dawson 's pick-up truck.
The distance to Morningside Project was several miles and the convoy of 9 vehicles moved slowly. Several vehicles, including ours, were in CB radio contact with Dawson in the lead vehicle, though frankly, I don't remember much of the conversation. I just wanted to hurry up and get the demonstration over with. And, I was scared. Here I was in a Klan convoy about to drive through an all-Black neighborhood where Blacks and Communists were holding a Death-To-The-Klan rally.
After what seemed hours, but was actually only a few minutes, we arrived in Morningside Project. Dawson stopped his truck two blocks from the communist's rally site, and spoke over the CB. "OK folks," he said, "there are the communists just ahead of us, let's go." I could plainly see a large group of people in the street and on the sidewalks, and I started shaking a little in nervous anticipation. There were only forty or fifty of us, and there were hundreds of them.
As we closed in on the Communists, I yelled out, "My God, I don't have a damn thing but my hands to fight with." Melano Caudle, sitting in the back seat grinned at me, and handing me a wooden night stick, said "here, use this Glenn." I felt better.
As we drove slowly through the crowd of Communists and local Blacks, they didn't immediately recognize who we were, and moved out of the street to allow us to pass. But then all Hell broke loose. One Communist recognized us and screamed, "It's the Klan, Death to the Klan." His screams were followed by dozens and then hundreds. "Death to the Klan, Death to the Klan, Death to the Klan," they yelled.
My fear quickly turned to burning hatred, and I stuck my head out the window and screamed back at them, "Niggers, Jew-Kikes, Communist bastards... you ugly Jew Yankee bastards... Death to the Communists."
Jerry continued to drive slowly through the screaming Blacks and Communists for about 150 feet past the main crowd, down the narrow street. This street was not only very narrow, but was also one way. It was impossible to pass another vehicle or to turn around.
Just as I was beginning to believe we'd all get through the Communists without a fight, the unbelievable happened. Eddy Dawson stopped his truck, preventing any escape, since there was no room to pass. I couldn't believe my eyes, and I screamed at him to drive on. He just sat there.
I looked through the station wagon's back window and saw dozens of Blacks and Communists swarming over the trapped Klan vehicles. Some were on car roofs jumping up and down. Others, with long white clubs were beating on the sides of our vehicles. The cries of "Death to the Klan" were louder than ever. And we were trapped, unable to go forwards or backwards.
Melano Caudle yelled, "We've got to go back and help those in the rear, my son's back there!" Melano's 16-year-old son was riding with another Klansman in the rear of our convoy.
Frankly, I just wanted to get away from the Communists as quickly as possible. But, I was not willing to act cowardly, so I said, "let's go," and jumped out of the station wagon swinging my night stick and ran 60 or 70 feet toward the rear, thinking the three others were right behind me, but they weren't. They just stepped out of the station wagon and stood there viewing the scene. As I ran down the sidewalk, a White male communist wearing a plaid jacket and hard hat appeared 40 or 50 feet directly in my front, pointing a pistol at me. And he fired at least two shots. I saw the smoke coming from the pistol barrel and heard the cracks of gun fire. I then performed a mid-flight turn around and headed rapidly back toward the station wagon. There was gun fire now from both sides, and Melano yelled, "they're trying to kill us... every man for himself... let's get the hell out of here!"
Dawson 's lead pick-up truck was gone by then so we all four jumped into the station wagon and sped away. Jerry drove down one block and hung a right, trying to find a way out of this Black neighborhood. None of us were from Greensboro, nor did any of us know our way around. No more than three blocks from where all hell had just broken loose, a car driven by a young Black male and meeting us head on, tried to run into us, but Jerry swerved and avoided the collision. How could that Black man have known so quickly what had just taken place, or that we were involved in it? I'll never know the answer to that, but I do know that he was willing to plow his car into ours head-on doing about 40 mph.
We were then safely away from the battle zone, but many others were fighting a battle to the death behind us. Based on later conversations with many Nazis and Klansmen, from newspapers and TV reports and from court testimony, I'll describe what transpired following my departure from the battle scene.
Because Dawson trapped our convoy in the midst of those enraged Blacks and Communists by stopping his truck, more than a dozen terrified, highly armed White men did what they thought they had to do in order to survive. Many others, unarmed, fought the Blacks and Communists with clubs and fists.
Those White men were justifiably scared half to death. They were trapped and surrounded by hundreds of screaming Blacks and Communists in the heart of a Black neighborhood. And the Communists not only attacked them with clubs, many were firing pistols at them.
Of the thirty-nine gun shots fired that day, nineteen were fired by the Communists themselves. Police ballistics tests and TV film footage proved that at the trials. The Communists not only started the fight by screaming "Death to the Klan!" at us and by beating on cars with clubs, they actually fired the first gunshots, when one of them fired at me.
Unfortunately for the Communists, they only had small caliber hand guns. The Klansmen and Nazis had high-powered rifles and shotguns. Also, many of the Klansmen and Nazis were military veterans, while the Communists were for the most part, intellectual city types, with little or no training in firearms. The Blacks simply ran, hundreds of them. This is why all the deaths and serious injuries were suffered by the Communists.
One windowless van in the convoy contained about a half-dozen Klansmen. They had sat quietly, unable to see outside the van, but could hear the "Death to the Klan!" shouting by the Communists, and their van being beaten upon by clubs, and what must have sounded like a hot Vietnam firefight. Being unarmed themselves, they were content to sit the whole thing out peacefully, until one of the Communists yanked the van's back door open and screamed "Death to the Klan!" at them. Then, with the instinct of cornered tigers, they poured out of the van and began fighting the Communist mob hand-to-hand. Several took clubs away from the Communists and began beating on them. Film footage of this club and fistfight was televised later over the whole country. Also televised, was Nazi Wayne Wood and others getting their rifles and shotguns out of a car trunk and firing at the Communists. Wood was shown with a grin on his face and a cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth. One unarmed Klansman actually took a firearm away from one of the Communists following a violent struggle.
Buela Taylor, an elderly White lady riding in the convoy, later described what she saw. "Glenn, when those first shots were fired, those Niggers scattered like that," and she illustrated by thrusting all ten fingers out. "It was the Whites that did all the fighting," she explained.
Of the five dead Communists, only one was Black. One was White, and there were two Jews and one Cuban. Paul Bermanzohn, a Jew from New York City and leader of the Communist Worker's Party, was shot in the head and though he was on the critical list, he survived.
The entire battle lasted but 88 seconds according to film footage taken by a local TV news crew. Newspaper and TV reporters were in abundance and dodged bullets like everybody else. One female reporter testified in court that she had wet her bloomers just before diving under a car. This same reporter suffered a lapse in memory and agreed to being questioned under hypnosis to improve her memory. Under hypnosis and forced to relive the shootout, she began crying, screaming and shouting words to this effect. "You Communist SOB's... you started it all... you crazy Communist SOB's, the Klan's gonna kill us all now."
When the police arrived, they arrested every single Klansman and Nazi on the scene, but not one single Black or Communist.
Virtually all newspapers published the following day proclaimed "Klan Massacre" and took wholeheartedly the side of the Communists, calling them Civil Rights Workers or Union Organizers. Newspaper and television news of the shootout gave the impression that armed Klansmen and Nazis drove to the scene and started shooting randomly at the Blacks and Communists, intent on killing everyone in sight.
The bias of the media was incredible and continued to be so even in the face of the acquittals of all Klansmen and Nazis following both state and federal trials.
The state trial of those men resulted in one of the most lengthy and costly trials in North Carolina history. Not one Klansman or Nazi was convicted of a single crime because the jury saw clearly that they had acted in self defense. Not content with the verdict, the federal government tried these men again, completely ignoring the obvious double jeopardy. And, once again, not one was found guilty of any crime committed on November 3, 1979.
Both state and federal officials declined to prosecute any of the Blacks or Communists.
Later, the Communist Worker's Party sued the city of Greensboro, and that city paid them around $300,000.00, though they refused to admit any wrongdoing. City officials stated they just wanted to put the whole ugly incident to rest and that's the only reason they agreed to pay.
Why did Eddy Dawson organize the Klan demonstration against the Communists, and why did he trap them in the midst of an enraged Communist mob? Dawson, though a paid police informant, was a member of the Klan. The answers to those two questions were never answered either by the media or by the two trials. If Dawson had driven his truck through the Communists without stopping, there would not have been shots fired that day, and no one would have died, in my opinion. The Communists would have struck some of our vehicles with their clubs as we passed by, and they'd have yelled their "Death to the Klan" chants, but there would have been no gunfire.
Eddy Dawson was paid very little by the Greensboro Police Department, certainly no more than a few hundred dollars per month, at the most. His duties consisted of attending Klan meetings and then reporting the names of the attendees and what transpired at the meetings. For each meeting, he was paid $50. 1 doubt seriously if he ever attended more than four or five meetings in any month, and the average was probably no more than two or three. Therefore, Dawson was not motivated by money.
The Greensboro Police Department knew well in advance of both the Klan and the Communist demonstrations, and of the locations. Dawson, in fact, obtained a parade permit and a city map from police officials. The Police admitted during the trials that they knew all about the demonstrations, but decided not to be present at the Communist rally site because, "they didn't want to infuriate the Communists." There was absolutely no police present during the deadly confrontation.
In my opinion, police officials wanted a violent confrontation to occur, to enable them to swoop in and arrest the leaders of both groups, and thus weaken (if not destroy) the effectiveness of both the extremist Right and Left in North Carolina. I don't believe they expected shooting. They expected there would simply be a fist or club fight.
Eddy Dawson wanted to see a good fight. I don't believe he expected shooting either. He intentionally caused the fight, by trapping the convoy. There can be no doubt about that. Also, Dawson liked to see himself on TV, and probably looked forward to the newspaper and TV publicity, following a good street fight.
The Communist Worker's Party immediately began to scream "Klan-Police conspiracy," and convinced many people that was the case, though, of course, it never was. Newspaper and TV reporters as well as prominent Civil Rights leaders and even some liberal politicians, sympathetic to the Communists, echoed this conspiracy theory.
As the former leader of the largest White racist group in North Carolina, and an activist for 30 years, I can tell you there was no Klan-Police conspiracy to kill Communists. The highly publicized "conspiracy theory" was nothing more than Communist propaganda designed to win sympathy for the Communists, and to create even more hatred for the Klan and the Nazi Party. And, they succeeded, thanks to the liberal media in North Carolina and throughout the country.
A few days following the shootout, our group began a fund drive to support those Klansmen and Nazis arrested. I was a Unit Leader of the National Socialist Party of American (NSPA) at the time, and I served under its leader Harold Covington of Raleigh. We raised about $10,000 and distributed it among the families of the defendants. After splitting from the NSPA and starting my own group (The Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan), in December of 1980, I raised about $10,000 and distributed the money as before.
Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter
© 1999-2008 by F.Glenn Miller, White Patriot Party. All rights reserved.