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Landmark Case

Brown v. Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

Case Number


Justice for marchers attacked by Klan
In 1979, over 100 members of the Invisible Empire Klan, armed with bats, ax handles and guns, clashed with a group of peaceful civil rights marchers in Decatur, Alabama.

Two marchers were shot in the head and face. Others were beaten with clubs and sticks. Forced to flee for their lives, they abandoned plans for a peaceful demonstration and sought safety.

Though the FBI investigated and could not find enough evidence of a conspiracy to charge the Klansmen, the Center filed a civil suit against the Invisible Empire and numerous Klansmen. Center investigators uncovered evidence that convinced the FBI to reopen the case, and nine Klansmen were eventually convicted of criminal charges.

The Center's civil suit was finally resolved around 1990. The settlement required Klansmen to pay damages, perform community service, and refrain from white supremacist activity.

In a unique addition, the Klansmen were also required to attend a course on race relations and prejudice, taught by the leaders of the civil rights group they attacked back in 1979.