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Landmark Case

Vietnamese Fishermen's Association v. Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

Case Number


Ending Klan intimidation
In 1981, armed Klansmen cruised Galveston Bay and practiced guerrilla tactics at secret paramilitary camps. They tried to destroy Vietnamese-Americans' fishing businesses by burning their boats and threatening their lives.

Fearful of competition from the Vietnamese, the white fishermen had invited the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, to send a message to the Vietnamese before the start of the shrimping season.

The Klan group trained in the use of grenades, explosives, weapons, techniques of ambush and hand-to-hand combat, all in preparation for what they believed was an impending "race war."

Klan Grand Dragon Louis Beam held several rallies and cross burnings in the Galveston Bay area. Then, on March 15, armed and hooded Klansmen embarked on "a boat ride" with a figure hung in effigy and a small cannon on board. The boat docked near the home of a Vietnamese man and terrorized his family.

Center attorneys filed a lawsuit that stopped the Klan's terror campaign and shut down its paramilitary training bases.