Macedonia v. Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

Popular Name: 
Church Burning Case
Case Number: 
96-14-217
Court where filed: 
Court of Common Pleas for the Third Judicial Circuit, Clarendon County, South Carolina
Date Filed: 
06/07/1996
Status: 
Won
Plaintiffs: 
Macedonia Baptist Church and its congregation
Defendants: 
Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Invisible Empire (North and South Carolina chapters), various Klan officials
Case Related Items 

A church burning
On the evening of June 21, 1995, members of the Christian Knights poured flammable liquids on the floor of a 100-year-old black Baptist church, ignited a fire and watched the building go up in flames. The structure was completely destroyed, but the spirit of the congregation was not.

The Center brought the case on behalf of Macedonia Baptist Church, one of several rural black churches burned by arsonists in the mid-1990s.

A South Carolina jury awarded the largest judgment ever against a hate group. The Christian Knights of the KKK, its state leader, and four other Klansmen were ordered to pay $37.8 million, later reduced by a judge to $21.5 million, for their conspiracy to burn a black church.

The civil judgment forced the Klan to give up its land and headquarters. When the property was sold, the deed included a restriction that the land never be used for white supremacist activities.

The judgment in this case transformed the Christian Knights from one of the most active Klan groups in the nation to a defunct organization.

 

Co-Counsel: 

Ricci Land Welch
Tom Turnipseed

Date(s) of Disposition: 

12/29/1997: Case amended
07/24/1998: Judgment for the plaintiffs (award later reduced)