Skip to main content Accessibility

Kentucky Supreme Court Upholds SPLC’s Crushing Legal Victory Against Notorious Klan Leader

The SPLC’s case against the Klansmen responsible for the savage beating of a Latino teen concluded with a victory this week when the Kentucky Supreme Court refused to reconsider a verdict against the former leader of the Imperial Klans of America (IKA).

Ron Edwards, the former IKA leader, had appealed his $1.3 million share of a $2.5 million verdict awarded to Jordan Gruver after a trial in November 2008.

On the eve of trial, a book written by a former FBI agent 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.

“Ron Edwards deliberately unleashed violent racists on an unsuspecting public, and Jordan Gruver paid the price,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “With this final ruling, the courts have rightfully held him accountable. This serves as a warning to other hate group leaders.”

The SPLC’s verdict against Edwards and one of his chief Klan lieutenants, Jarred Hensley, decimated the IKA.

As “imperial wizard” of the IKA, Edwards once sat atop a sprawling Klan organization. Based at a rural 15-acre compound in Dawson Springs, Ky., the IKA once had chapters in 25 states. The group hosted an annual gathering known as Nordic Fest, which brought together racist skinheads, neo-Nazis and Klansmen to network and listen to performances by hate rock bands. Speakers at the gathering called for the deaths of Latinos and Jews.

Today, because of the SPLC’s lawsuit, the IKA has been reduced to two chapters. Edwards is serving time in federal prison on gun and drug charges unrelated to the SPLC case.

Gruver, a U.S. citizen of Panamanian-Indian descent, was 16 when he was attacked by IKA members who were on a recruiting mission at a county fair in Brandenburg, Ky., in July 2006.

Unprovoked, the Klansmen threw whisky in his face, called him an “illegal s---” and beat him to the ground, kicking him with steel-toe boots as he curled into a fetal position and prayed for his survival. One of the Klansmen stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 300 pounds – towering over Gruver, who is only 5-foot-3 and weighed 150 pounds.

Gruver suffered injuries that included a broken jaw, broken teeth and permanent nerve damage. Doctors also diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that plagued the teen with nightmares and flashbacks.