Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kentucky Jury Nails Klan for $2.5 million

Ten days after Kentucky voters rejected America's first black president, a jury in rural, white Meade County rejected homegrown racist hatred.

The leader of the Kentucky-based Imperial Klans of America and a former Klansman must pay $2.5million in damages for the beating of a minority teenager at a county fair that left him with permanent injuries ....

Attorneys for the victim, Jordan Gruver, 19, argued that Ron Edwards, the Klan group's Imperial Wizard, recklessly bred an atmosphere of hate and violence and was liable for Gruver's July 2006 beating at the hands of his Klansmen, even though he didn't order it.

The large judgment, which must be shared by former Klansman Jarred Hensley, who participated in the attack, will cripple the nation's second-largest Klan group and help deter future violence, said Southern Poverty Law Center attorneys who are representing Gruver.

"In America, you have the right to hate, but you don't have the right to hurt," said law center attorney Morris Dees, who notched his latest legal win against hate groups.

As a result of the verdict, the IKA, which has 23 chapters in 17 states, may have to relinquish its 15-acre compound near Dawson Springs, Ky. Both defendants will likely have wages garnished for the next 15 years, Dees said, even though they claim to have no money.

Read the whole thing.

Dawson Springs, by the way, is the hometown of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who loudly proclaimed the small-town values he learned growing up in Dawson Springs in his successful gubernatorial campaign last year.

But he has been conspicuously silent about the hatred that grew up in the same small town, even as the case has drawn national media attention.

A late Friday night verdict fits right into Beshear's avoidance policy. He can hide from the press all weekend, and with luck, by Monday some other story will draw their attention.

So, Governor, let me be the first to call out your cowardly ass. Stand up for once and tell the people of Kentucky that you are proud of this verdict, proud that small-town Kentucky has rejected the politics of hate, proud that real small-town Kentucky values have re-asserted themselves.

Tell us in no uncertain terms that as Governor you reject everything the Klan stands for, that you encourage all Kentuckians to stand tall against racism and hatred, that you will work closely with the Southern Poverty Law Center to eliminate racism and hatred in Kentucky.

If you don't publicly praise this verdict, then you might as well publicly condemn the jury and praise the Klan, because your silence amounts to the same thing.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....