U.S. and World Politics

Stop Klan-Nazi Terror

Remembering the February 2, 1980 March on Greensboro protesting the murder of five anti-Klan activists

By Mike Alewitz

On November 3, 1979, five anti-Klan activists were brutally murdered by Klansmen and Nazis, in Greensboro, North Carolina. The massacre was organized in collusion with local police and federal agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

The events were filmed and the murderers identified, but the killers were eventually released by all-white juries.

The Greensboro Massacre should be a sober reminder that fascist groups are a serious threat to the working-class movement. While relatively quiescent in recent years, the Klan and similar groups have deep roots and often work together with local police. They have received some wind in their sails with the election of Donald Trump.

Fascist movements can only be neutralized or defeated through a political struggle that mobilizes masses of people in opposition to their poison.

Sucker-punching individuals or trashing windows are not helpful in advancing that goal. It allows the criminals to look like the victims, and the victims look like criminals. Such ultra-left actions leave most working people as spectators, not participants.

Groups that plan such activities leave themselves open to victimization or frame ups through the work of agent provocateurs.

That does not mean there is no place for individual acts of civil disobedience. But I would contrast the banner drop by Greenpeace activists to the Berkeley trashing.

The crane takeover won the respect of tens-of-thousands of workers. The protestors were serious, disciplined, prepared and articulate. They are the kind of people you can trust in a fight.

There are times when it is necessary to physically defend ourselves against fascists. It is not a game. Many have died-or been seriously injured in such combat.

We need to minimize such losses by winning great numbers of people to politically and physically support the defense of democratic rights.

Such mobilizations are the best way to honor those that died in Greensboro.

The murdered activists, members of the Communist Workers Party:

Sandi Smith, a nurse and civil rights activist;

Dr. James Waller, textile workers union activist;

Bill Sampson, a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School;

Cesar Cauce, Cuban immigrant who graduated magna cum laude from Duke University;

Dr. Michael Nathan, chief of pediatrics at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, North Carolina

Ten others were wounded.

For more information about the Greensboro Massacre:

Mike Alewitz is a renowned muralist and labor activist. For three decades he has been active in movements for peace and social justice. He taught mural painting at Central Connecticut State University until his retirement in 2016, and is the artistic director of the Labor Art and Mural Project.

Facebook, February 2, 2017