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 Update: SPLC Wins $2.5 Million Verdict for Teen in Klan Case

By Sonia Scherr on November 15, 2008 - 1:08 am, Posted in Klan, Lawsuits, Trial Updates

BRANDENBURG, Ky. — In a blow to one of the nation’s largest Klan groups, jurors yesterday awarded more than $2.5 million to a teenager who was assaulted by Klansmen at a county fair in rural Kentucky.

The verdict is expected to shut down the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), which has 16 chapters in eight states. “We intend to collect every dime we can on the judgment and do everything within our power to put the Imperial Klans out of business,” said Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen at a press conference after the verdict announcement.

The SPLC sued IKA leader Ron Edwards of Dawson Springs, Ky., contending that members of his Klan group attacked a 16-year-old U.S. citizen of Panamanian descent because they thought he was an “illegal spic.” Also named as a defendant was Jarred Hensley of Cincinnati, who served nearly three years in state prison for assaulting the teenager at a county fair in northwest Kentucky.

After deliberating for more than six hours on Friday, the jury returned the verdict shortly after 9:30 p.m. The jury found that Edwards had failed to properly supervise the Klansmen who attacked the teenager and that he had encouraged their violence.

The moment was a victory for Jordan Gruver, the boy who suffered lasting physical and mental injuries from the July 2006 assault by Klansmen. “I hope it sends a message to every single one of them that what they do is wrong,” he told the press afterward.

Gruver’s parents, Cindy and Joe Gruver, and 20-year-old brother, Randell Gruver, were in the courtroom when the verdict was announced. Also in attendance were about a dozen racist skinheads who had come to support Edwards and Hensley.

The jury awarded just over $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages to Gruver. Based on the jury’s apportionment of responsibility for Gruver’s attack, Edwards will be responsible for 20% of the compensatory award as well as the entire punitive damages award. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant and serve as a deterrent to future misconduct.

Before the verdict announcement, the forewoman said it had not been easy to reach a decision. “It was very emotional for some of us,” she told the courtroom. “We didn’t agree with everything at all times.”

The IKA, which formed in the mid ‘90s, is a particularly dangerous group. Its welcomes violent skinheads and declares on its website that “the IKA hates Muds, spics, kikes and niggers.” Each spring at its 15-acre compound in Dawson Springs, Ky., the IKA hosts Nordic Fest, a weekend of music and speeches calling for the murder of Latinos and other minorities. The main defendant in the case, IKA founder and leader Edwards (called the “Imperial Wizard” in Klan parlance), arrived at his deposition in February with the words “Fuck S.P.L.C.” tattooed on his shaved head.

Besides demolishing the IKA, the SPLC hopes the case will shine a spotlight on the growing problem of hate and violence aimed at U.S. Latinos. Bias crimes against Latinos rose 40% between 2003 and 2007, according to the latest FBI statistics. Furthermore, the SPLC counted 888 hate groups last year, an increase of almost 50% since 2000 that’s been driven by anti-immigrant fervor.

Tags: ,
  • http://www.boony68.webs.com Reverend Boony

    bob cooper said,

    on February 25th, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Its fine to bankrupt these groups in fact its what these assholes deserve and have coming to them. However- lets not jump ahead of ourselves. Money is not the motivating factor that keeps the klan and other WN in action. its all personal, they have no value or price tag. they don’t seek money as much as we think. even now as the entire financial world collapses- they will continue to keep themselves as hateful as ever because the recession is really leverage for them- they WANT the world to burn so that they can feel that they’re right about something. The real way of combating this problem isn’t just cutting thier funds, its also regarding them as a terrorist organization and a danger to our society. They need to be told loudly and clearly that their promotion of hate is wrong (knocking thier heads isn’t going to work-two wrongs don’t make right). Its not about money or violence its about sending a message. Also its important to realize that for every man or woman that joins a WN group people also leave them too. its futile. like iceskating up a hill.accept that world is changing.

    I agree bob…..In fact, I think we should continue to do both.

  • bob cooper

    Its fine to bankrupt these groups in fact its what these assholes deserve and have coming to them. However- lets not jump ahead of ourselves. Money is not the motivating factor that keeps the klan and other WN in action. its all personal, they have no value or price tag. they don’t seek money as much as we think. even now as the entire financial world collapses- they will continue to keep themselves as hateful as ever because the recession is really leverage for them- they WANT the world to burn so that they can feel that they’re right about something. The real way of combating this problem isn’t just cutting thier funds, its also regarding them as a terrorist organization and a danger to our society. They need to be told loudly and clearly that their promotion of hate is wrong (knocking thier heads isn’t going to work-two wrongs don’t make right). Its not about money or violence its about sending a message. Also its important to realize that for every man or woman that joins a WN group people also leave them too. its futile. like iceskating up a hill.accept that world is changing.

  • Jerry Johnson

    this lawsuit was personal against Ron. nothing else.

  • http://www.psychic-wisdom.net DavidJames

    Finally a victory against bigotry of the worst kind, I hope you are dilligent in collecting every penny owed to this young man and his family for the horror inflicted on him by these cretins.

    This is the 21st century, not the 15th and you simply can’t get away with this in a civilised society.

  • Adam

    Another Great Day in American History! I am Proud to be an American Today! This along with the election of our new President make it a great time to be an American. I feel that the Courage and Commitment these Attorneys displayed is beyond compare. Hopefully someday trials like this will be a thing of the past along with hate groups like the IKA. Untill then the SPLC will be here to fight and strike fear into the Hearts of all the members of these organizations!

  • Jay Moody

    Hey I suggested the exact same thing :D Terrorism is terrorism no matter what shade of White the purpetrators are. Weather it’s protestant Klansmen or muslim Al-Qaida anyone who terrorizes is a terrorist, period. Coercing Blacks, Jews and others not to vote via threats of violence and violent actions is terrorism in it’s most basic form. I’m very willing to fight the war on terror here on the domestic front, I’d be more then happy to round up a few Klansmen and haul them away to terror camps where they belong.

    If these “White Nationalist” have such a problem with Blacks in America they should have thought about it before being so damn cheap and lazy as to have slaves. Blacks are here to stay, but White Nationalist are free to leave if they want. They won’t be missed.

  • http://www.boony68.webs.com Reverend Boony

    Concerned Citizen said,

    on November 25th, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    I’m willing to bet the television watching, kool-aid gulping brainwashed jurors wouldn’t have awarded that amount to a white victim had they been assaulted by the thugs of the New Black Panthers.

    White nationalism is growing (I joined an organization a few months ago!), no matter how much people try to stop it.

    14/88

    -Concerned Citizen

    Dude….”White Nationalism” has always been around……Its just another “nicey nicey” name for predjudice and intollerance.

    As for the judgement against the haters being fair…..I think that justice would have been better served if the knights had been charged with terrorism and prosecuted accordingly….Maybe even doing a stint at gutuanamo.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I’m willing to bet the television watching, kool-aid gulping brainwashed jurors wouldn’t have awarded that amount to a white victim had they been assaulted by the thugs of the New Black Panthers.

    White nationalism is growing (I joined an organization a few months ago!), no matter how much people try to stop it.

    14/88

    -Concerned Citizen

  • LEATRICE

    I pray to God that he keep this world together.

  • GENO

    Also on the ABC World News Tonight Sunday`s edition did a piece regarding the rise of hate incidents across the U.S. Including the SPLC`s recent victory against the IKA. Morris Dees was interviewed including several White Supremacists such as Ron Edwards among others including the victim of a vicious beating–Jordan Gruver. One can watch the entire documentaries by login into the National Geographic Society`s website.

    Morris Dees quotes:
    “You have the right to hate. I support that right. But you do not have the right to cross the line and hurt somebody.”
    –Unquote

    I agree to his logic.

  • http://www.boony68.webs.com Reverend Boony

    Thank you steve.

  • http://www.boony68.webs.com Reverend Boony

    Geno….You must not have read my post very well.
    When I said it was your problem….I was referring to my asking questions….In other words, if you have a problem with my asking questions on this or any other forum then it is exactly that….YOUR PROBLEM.

    By the way…..Im a wiccan minister….Not a christian one.

  • Albert Garibay

    So I have a Question would the SPLC help me in getting a 2.5 million verdict against this Toilet Bowl US Government.They have destroyed all of my dreams of having the same employment opportunities as all these garbage Foreigners have that have flooded my country for the last 80 years.

    Would they take the United States Government to court and get me money for the pain and suffering I have been put through.

  • Steve Wise

    Re the conversation between Rev. Boony & Geno: the Wikipedia entry for Brown Berets (the first item listed on Google) provides a reasonably succinct and accurate portrayal of that group from the late ’60s and ’70s. But it is rather bare bones. If you’d like to get some real flavor of that era, check out Oscar Zeta Acosta’s Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo (Zeta A. was an attorney who defended some of the Brown Berets in Los Angeles courts). Or, alternatively, look at Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Zeta A. is “Dr. Gonzo”).

  • http://www.hateofhate.com hate of hate

    RIGHT ON AND KEEP THE GOOD WORK UP AGANIST HATE GROUP’S EVERY WHERE,THIS MUST COME TO A END ! IN JESUS NAME AMEN,AMEN

  • Chuck

    Glad to see justice has been served…I hope this verdict will bring the Gruver family the peace they deserve. Keep it up!