From Greensboro to Washington

The recent shooting @ the USHMM — and the largely tedious debates which have emerged from it concerning potential radical right-wing terrorism (a product, it is frequently argued, of the equation Black President+economic dysfunction+white racism) — reminded me of a mass murder that took place 30 years ago in Greensboro, North Carolina, commonly referred to as the ‘Greensboro Massacre’. That, and the fact that the alleged shooter, James von Brunn, was a neo-Nazi and a ‘white nationalist’; for in reality, ‘white nationalism’ contains more nuts than a Kingaroy peanut farm.

One such nut is Harold Covington, whose brother Ben was interviewed by the SPLC for the Winter 2008 edition of its Intelligence Report (see : ‘Little Big Man’). According to the SPLC:

There’s little doubt that Harold Covington, 55, is a dedicated neo-Nazi. He was a key player in the National Socialist White People’s Party, helped pioneer cyberspace as a medium for neo-Nazi propaganda [whose premiere exponent is now Florida-based nutzi and convicted terrorist Don Black of Stormfront fame], and led the North Carolina unit of the National Socialist Party of America at the time it took part in the 1979 killings of five left-wing anti-Klan protesters in Greensboro, N.C. (He later bragged about his people “greasing communists” in Greensboro.) Two members of his group were among the 16 Klansmen and neo-Nazis arrested and charged with murder in connection with what came to be known as the “Greensboro Massacre,” although none of them was ever convicted. (Although Covington never faced criminal charges, he was named as a defendant in a civil suit brought by surviving protesters and the families of the dead. In the end, jurors found two police officers, a police informer and four Klansmen liable for compensatory damages, but Covington was not among them.) Covington was also associated at one point with a man who allegedly hoped to attack a shopping mall with napalm over the Christmas holidays, although he denied any role in that plot. Over the last 35 years, Covington has interacted with almost all of the important leaders and activists of the American radical right…

I don’t remember when I first read about the “Greensboro Massacre”, but the episode has all the essential ingredients to tempt a leftist trainspotter and nutzi h8r such as myself, pitting members of the ‘Communist Workers Party’ (a Maoist groupuscule) against members of the KKK and the North Carolina unit of the ‘National Socialist Party of America’ (Covington’s mob).

The Greensboro massacre took place on November 3, 1979 in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States. Five marchers were shot and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party while in a protest. It was the culmination of attempts by the Communist Workers Party (known as the Workers Viewpoint Organization at the time of the shooting) to organize mostly black industrial workers in the area.

The massacre resulted in the deaths of anti-Klan demonstrators César Vicente Cauce, 25; Michael Ronald Nathan, M.D., 32; William Evan Sampson, 31; Sandra Neely Smith, 28; and James Michael Waller, M.D., 36; and the wounding of demonstrators Paul Bermanzohn, Claire Butler, Tom Clark, Nelson Johnson, Rand Manzella, Don Pelles, Frankie Powell, Jim Wrenn; Klansman Harold Flowers, and news photographer David Dalton.

At the time of the 20th anniversary of the massacre, the idea of establishing a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ was floated, inspired in part by the institution of similar projects in South Africa to examine apartheid-era crimes. Its final report was released on May 25, 2006, which is available (along with much other infos) at the Commission website.

One of the remarkable aspects of the massacre is the fact that nobody was convicted as being responsible for it. The Commission summarises the event as follows:

On Nov. 3, 1979, in the absence of a dissuasive police presence, a caravan of white supremacists confronted demonstrators preparing for a “Death to the Klan” rally planned in the cityʼs black Morningside Homes public housing community by the Communist Workers Party (CWP), previously known as the Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO). In addition to the five demonstrators killed, at least ten others were wounded, and numerous residents and other witnesses were traumatized. Klan and Nazi members, some of whom were filmed by news cameras as they shot into the crowd, claimed self-defense and were twice acquitted of all criminal charges by all-white juries.

After more than two decades, the two criminal trials, and a civil trial that found members of the Greensboro Police Department jointly liable with Klan and Nazi members for the wrongful death of one victim, many in the Greensboro community still did not feel that justice had been served. For this reason, former members of the CWP joined with other community members and supporters to initiate the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project (GTCRP), launching a democratic process that engaged the community in nominating and selecting the seven members of this independent Commission, empaneled on June 12, 2004.

Footage of the massacre:

Mary Ann Clawson reviews two books written by CWP survivors, Through Survivors’ Eyes: From the Sixties to the Greensboro Massacre, Sally A. Bermanzohn (Vanderbilt University Press, 2003) and Love and Revolution: A Political Memoir: People’s History of the Greensboro Massacre, Its Setting and Aftermath, Signe Waller, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), here [PDF]. She writes:

…the history of the Workers Viewpoint Organization/Communist Workers Party in North Carolina suggests that the Maoist-inflected Marxist-Leninist party-building efforts of the seventies were among the period’s most racially diverse form of left activism, at a moment when a significant fraction of Black Power and Pan-African militants had turned toward Marxism and class politics. As a particularly diverse product of this trend, the North Carolina group was formed by the merger of the Durham Organizing Committee, a group of white leftists based at Duke University and including several physicians, and the Bolshevik Organizing Collective, an organization of black activists led by Nelson Johnson, and unified further through their affiliation with the Workers Viewpoint Organization, a would-be national organization whose founders and principal leaders were Asian Americans.

The massacre is also the subject of a doco by Adam Zucker: Greensboro: Closer to the Truth (2007).

(Yonni Chapman, another former CWP member, reviews Love and Revolution for Socialism and Democracy (Vol.17, No.2) here.)

As for Harold Covington, in the early 1990s, he also acted as the contact point for the UK-based ‘Combat 18’ — originally a nutzi offshoot of the British National Party, and closely allied to Loyalist paramilitaries. On this subject, Anti-Fascist Action (Ireland) write:

Charlie Sargeant, the former leader of Combat 18 now serving life in England for the murder of a fellow fascist, often boasted of his personal friendship with Johnny [‘Mad Dog’] Adair. In the mid 1990s C18’s control of the Blood and Honour ‘music’ network allowed them to put on several gigs in the North. ‘Blood and Honour’ magazine boasted of Welsh band Celtic Warrior’s visit to Belfast and published photographs of loyalist bandsmen playing alongside them at a ‘White Christmas’ gig on the Lower Shankill Road. Since the gigs were held in loyalist areas it would be impossible for them to go ahead without at least tacit sanction from the paramilitaries. The same issue of ‘Blood and Honour’ magazine which reported the Shankhill Road gig also printed photographs of two UDA prisoners in Long Kesh, who sent greetings to C18 and said that they were “dedicated to keeping Ulster British and white”. Again this had to have been sanctioned by their leadership within the jail. The loyalists’ prison journal ‘Warrior’ has published pro-C18 articles…

In July 1999 Combat 18 brought a group of 25 supporters from Britain to Portadown for the July 12th weekend. Combat 18 members were present at the unveiling of a memorial to Billy Wright in Portadown in July 1999. Wright is also idolised on a number of C18 websites. On July 11th 1999 a ‘Blood & Honour’ gig was held in Portadown. The English fascist bands ‘Razors Edge’, ‘Chingford Attack’ and ‘No Remorse’ played alongside loyalist flute bands.

In the same manner as local authorities in Greensboro and their friends in the Federal Government oversaw the activities of the KKK and neo-Nazis, the Russian nanny state looks after the interests of murderous little boneheads, and the Italian state has frequently deployed fascist groups to safeguard its interests, in Northern Ireland/The Six Counties, the British political establishment oversaw the activities of Loyalist death squads — as documented in, for example, Sean McPhilemy’s The Committee: Political Assassination in Northern Ireland (Roberts Rinehart, 1999).

    NB. Despite their last gig to celebrate the deaths of Australian soldiers in WWII/Adolf Hitler’s birthday being a bit of a shambles, the local B&H franchise, along with fellow boneheads belonging to the Hammerskins, have organised a gig in Melbourne for September 12, 2009.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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