A Greensboro Cover

Greensboro FiveFrom Armies of Repression
By Tom Burghardt

Another case which, after all, “only encompasses everything that has been done or will be done in the future,” occurred in Greensboro, NC in 1979.

On November 3, 1979, a posse organized by Klansmen and neo-Nazis murdered five members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP) in broad daylight. Their “crime” had been to organize a “Smash the Klan” demonstration among Greensboro’s heavily black and working-class mill workers. CWP members were also union organizers and activists who had upset “the fundamental order of things.”

An essential component for the operation organized by the Klan was BATF agent Bernard Butkovich. The BATF agent, a Vietnam veteran and demolitions expert undercover in the local branch of the American Nazi Party, helped the fascists obtain automatic weapons. After the smoke cleared and five people lay dead, the BATF “asset” assisted the Klansmen and nazis in making their escape.

This anti-communist death squad had been recruited, organized and led by an FBI infiltrator, Edward Dawson. Dawson was also a paid informant for the Greensboro Police Department.

Dawson reported to his handlers that eighty-five Klansmen meeting in near-by Lincolnton had expressed their intent to counter-demonstrate on November 3.

They had stated that they intended to arm themselves for their counter-demonstration and that Klan leader Virgil Griffin was actively calling on Klansmen from other states to participate. It was also rumored that fascists and neo- nazis from the Winston-Salem area had obtained a machine gun and other weapons. They planned to come to Greensboro on November 3 “in order to shoot up the place.”

Dawson reported to Greensboro detective Jerry Cooper that Klansmen and neo-nazis were assembling at the home of a local Klan member and that they were armed. Grand Dragon Virgil Griffin was present.

The police/FBI informant had received a copy of the parade route the day before the CWP-initiated march; the map had been supplied by Detective Cooper. Dawson had driven over the parade route three hours earlier with a contingent of out-of-town Klansmen. Dawson also alerted Cooper that the Klansmen and neo-nazis possessed three handguns and nine long-barreled rifles, including automatic weapons supplied by Butkovich.

Prior to the beginning of the CWP’s march and demonstration, Cooper and other police officials drove by the house where the Klansmen and neo-nazis were assembling. They jotted down some license plate numbers and then declared a lunch break—at approximately 10 a.m.!

Less than an hour later, Cooper, trailing behind the fascist caravan, reported “shots fired” and then “heavy gunfire.” However, the tactical squad assigned to monitor the march was still out to lunch.

Two other officers, responding to a domestic disturbance call, noted the absence of patrol cars usually assigned to the area. They arrived at the Morningside Projects, the site of the CWP march. Officer Wise later reported having received a most unusual call from the police communications center. The officers were asked how long they anticipated being at their call; they were subsequently advised to “clear the area as soon as possible.”

Moments later five demonstrators lay dead, murdered in broad daylight […]. According to anti-racist researcher Michael Novick, the Greensboro massacre “set the tone for neo-nazi organizing by […] white supremacists in the ensuing decade.”

A subsequent civil suit brought against the neo-nazis, the Klan and the Greensboro police resulted in a partial award to the surviving family members of those murdered by the fascists. However the FBI and BATF agents walked away scot-free.

FBI Director William Webster labeled the charge of federal complicity “utterly absurd,” even though the killers had been recruited, organized and led on their murderous rampage by Bureau informant Edward Dawson, and automatic weapons supplied by BATF agent Bernard Butkovich were used in the deadly attack.

As we have seen, however, this is simply standard operating procedure; what Noam Chomsky has termed the “demonstration effect” for those who dare to challenge the hegemony of US corporate elites and their fascist and clerical-fascist allies.

Source: [BACORR-North]


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