The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Trial Day 3: Teen Describes Klan Beating in Final Day of Testimony

By Sonia Scherr on November 14, 2008 - 6:14 pm, Posted in Klan, Lawsuits, Trial Updates

BRANDENBURG, Ky. — A teenager gave an emotional account of his assault by Klansmen during the final day of testimony in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s trial against the Imperial Klans of America.

Jordan Gruver, who was 16 when he was attacked by IKA members at the Meade County Fair, told the jury that he was about to buy a drink from a concession stand when several Klansmen called him a “spic,” spat at him and threw whiskey in his face. Then Klansman Jarred Hensley struck a blow to his jaw that knocked him off his feet. Gruver showed the jury how he curled up in a fetal position and tried to protect his head with his arms. While he lay on the ground, Klansmen kicked him with steel-toed boots.

“As they were kicking me, I prayed to myself,” Gruver said, breaking down on the witness stand. “I said, ‘God, just let me make it home. Please let me make it home.’”

Today the case went to the jury for a decision after the SPLC presented its final witnesses and the defense declined to offer testimony. The SPLC sued IKA leader Ron Edwards of Dawson Springs, Ky., in civil court, contending that members of his Klan group attacked and severely injured Gruver because they mistakenly thought he was an illegal immigrant. Also named as a defendant was Jarred Hensley of Cincinnati, who served nearly three years in state prison for assaulting Gruver in July 2006.

During today’s testimony, two medical doctors described Gruver’s injuries, which included a busted jaw, a fractured arm and broken teeth. He has weakness and impaired fine motor coordination in his left hand that will likely be permanent. Both doctors said the assault caused him to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental condition that can result from traumatic events. Symptoms of his PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping and hyper-vigilance. Although he was prescribed an anti-depressant, Gruver has become so withdrawn socially that he cannot attend school or work.

But the most powerful testimony came from Gruver himself. Before the attack, he was a high school athlete who loved to play piano, an instrument he learned from his paternal grandfather. He wrote and performed gospel music and attended church. Two years after the assault, he stays home most days unless he has a doctor’s appointment. He sets his alarm clock to wake himself up every two hours to avoid the nightmares that plague him if he sleeps longer. And he has stopped composing music or going to church. “I ain’t lost touch with God,” he said, “but I’ve lost faith.”

At the heart of the SPLC’s case is the argument that Edwards should be held responsible for the actions of his Klansmen, who went to the fair to recruit new IKA members. During closing arguments today, Edwards contended that he is not accountable for Gruver’s injuries because he did not send his Klansmen to the fair. “Each were adult men who made their own choices to attend the fair that evening,” he said. “I should not be held legally liable for something I did not do nor had any knowledge of.”

But SPLC founder Morris Dees told the jury that Edwards could be held liable under the law. He said Edwards allowed men with serious criminal records to join his group, told them to recruit new members for the IKA, and failed to properly supervise them when they went on recruiting missions. Edwards should have known someone was likely to get hurt, Dees said.

“You have an opportunity to send a message to Edwards — and the young people who may come behind him in groups just like his all over the United States — that decent citizens just don’t stand for this,” Dees said.

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  • Marla Hill

    This is one example of why I think it is so important to support hate crimes legislation and, I would go further, to support anti-hate speech legislation. A beating during a robbery, as awful as it is, is still an incident isolated to those involved. A hate crime beating, however, victimizes anyone who is left to fear that they may be next.

    As to hate speech, when people preach hate to the young, the criminal, or the generally ignorant, they are, in effect, loading a gun and handing it to someone. That should be a crime.

  • LEATRICE

    Thank you SPLC and I pray for you and Gruver. Gruver please put your Trust and Faith in God he will restore what was taken from you. God Bless You!

  • RWS

    The SPLC deserves much credit for its dedicated work over many years. But semi-literate writing — “Gruver’s injuries, which included a busted jaw” — detract from the power of its reporting.

  • Kyle Baisley Holmes

    Sooner than later whites will be a huge minority in America, I pray they treat me, as a white man, better than we have treated them.

  • Barbara Clark

    It is heartening to read of your victory — congratulations! But is there help for Jordan Gruver now, to enable him to get his life back?

  • Annette

    Congratulation! on your winning this case. Hopefully this along with other winning cases will soon send the message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in the 21st Century.
    It appears that there are still people in this would who just don’t understand that this is The United States of America and the era of beating and killing people because of the color of their skin is long gone.
    May God continue to bless you and your work!
    Annette

  • Loretta

    I will pray for this young man to get back in church and trust in people again. Thank goodness everyone who is white does not feel the way these people who are so full of hate do. It is quite emotional to think of what this young man has had to endure. God loves everyone because he created all of us but he did not create the hate these people have in their hearts. I am so happy for the verdict and hope this closes down this group of hate.

  • Kathy

    Mr. Dees-

    I have been following the events leading up to this trial with great interest.

    I was born and raised in Kentucky, but was unaware of the choke hold the Klan’s had on my home state. I am glad that the SPLC exists, and is brave enough to take on these American terrorists.

    Congratulations on your victory! God bless you.

  • Mary-Lee

    Kyle Stewart said,
    … but the non-white population ain’t going nowhere. They are here to fight.

    Mr. Stewart, the white population joins you in repudiating this kind of behavior. We simply won’t tolerate it!

  • http://aellis001@yahoo.com Alonzo

    I wish I were this young man. I would have not went to the cops. I would be serving 25 to life.

  • http://onebrightpearl.org Joseph Koudelka

    Congratulations! I have been following your work for years and am lifted by your accomplishments. Thank you.

  • barry

    Justice prevails!!! Thank You Morris Dees and all the SPLC staff for doing what the criminal justice system can’t seem to get done,which is puttin’ the hurt on the hate mongering purveyors of violence who spew vitreolic diatribes to infect the weak , ignorant and suseptable and to get the latter to do their sick violent bidding. It’s not the speech that is unlawfull , but the action that follows .
    Keep up this very important work ,as I plan on being a supporter of Your organization for MANY tears to come — You , Ladies and Gentlemen are true Patriots !!!

    Respectfully, Barry

  • Ben

    Great work! I wish it didn’t need to be done, but as long as these hate groups exist, I am glad that SPLC is out there fighting the good fight. I am proud to support SPLC.

  • Becky

    Cogratulations on the win. Good to know that justice prevailed for this young man. May there come a day where you bankrupt all of these hatemongers, and put all of their assets into the hands of their victims. Proud to be a supporter of SPLC.

  • Rob

    Morris Dees and the SPLC are real American heroes!
    I’m glad the case was won, and I look forward to the SPLC working to bankrupt the IKA scum.

    Fight on!

  • Kyle Stewart

    It is pathetic that we have such cross-eyed, inbred morons living in this day and age. These pointy-headed clowns are the lowest base form of scum, putrid mucus would be one step above them! What a waste of so-called “human” lives. These imbeciles should grow up and do real work, but then again, contributing to society was never their destiny. The KKK better be warned, they can groan and moan all they want, but the non-white population ain’t going nowhere. They are here to fight and be a thorn in their slimy sides.

  • http://OsiSpeaks.com KYJurisDoctor

    May justice prevail, and righteousness run down like a mighty river. OsiSpeaks.com

  • ken mier

    Hell of A CASE MORRIS
    THE VIOLENCE HAS TO END.

    Ive been receiving Sarcastic emails from Various other KKK members all week.
    Be advised that this and the LOUISIANA KILLING HAS CAUSED OUR GROUP TO BEGIN OUR Birmingham ACCEPTANCE CAMPAINE TWO MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.

    We have cut thru the chase and began with the congregation that knows what forgiveness is all about.

    Birmingham will soon be known as the Magic City of Forgiveness instead of the Notorious City of Hate.
    An example for the rest of the Nation to follow.

    So you clean up the garbage and we will clean up the past.
    One Day @ A Time

  • The Gunslinger

    Go Morris Dees! I pray SPLC wins this case.