10/17/2011

Kentucky Court Upholds SPLC Victory Against Notorious Klan Leader

An appellate court in Kentucky has upheld the SPLC’s $1.3 million verdict against a Klan leader at the center of a large network of neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and other violent white supremacists.

“This case sends a message to the hatemongers of the world that they can’t unleash dangerous people upon the public and then pretend they are not responsible for the consequences,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “It really comes down to the biblical principle of you reap what you sow. That is the message of the ruling.”

The jury award against Ron Edwards, formerly head of the Imperial Klans of America, was part of a larger $2.5 million verdict against both Edwards and one of his chief Klan lieutenants, Jarred Hensley. Edwards appealed his share of the verdict.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the November 2008 verdict on Oct. 14.

The case was filed on behalf of Jordan Gruver, who was brutally beaten by Klansmen on an IKA recruiting mission at a county fair in Brandenburg, Ky., in July 2006. Gruver is a U.S. citizen of Panamanian-Indian descent, but the Klansmen who beat him called him an “illegal spic.”

“Ron Edwards knew that these members had obvious, dangerous tendencies,” Cohen said. “Some of them were violent criminals; one had just gotten out of prison. Yet he sent them out into the public to recruit for his organization.”

As the leader of the IKA, Edwards was at the center of a large network of white supremacists. The IKA’s 15-acre compound in Dawson Springs, Ky., was the site of Nordic Fest, an annual music festival that brought together Klansmen, racist skinheads, neo-Nazis and members of other hate groups Along with performances by hate rock bands, speakers at the gathering called for the deaths of Latinos and Jews.

Edwards is now serving time at a federal prison on gun and drug charges unrelated to the SPLC lawsuit. On the eve of trial in the SPLC case, a book came out that said Edwards was involved in a plot to kill SPLC founder and chief counsel Morris Dees when Dees was involved in a separate trial against the Aryan Nations in Idaho.

The IKA verdict was one of the many crushing legal victories the SPLC has won against white supremacist groups across the country. The lawsuit has decimated the IKA organization, once one of the largest and most violent hate groups in America. 

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