Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Racist groups threaten violence against Southern Poverty Law Center

from the Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser "Southern Poverty Law Center beefs up security" by Kym Klass
The Southern Poverty Law Center has increased security following threats from white supremacists to blow up its building.

The threats began after the SPLC filed suit against the Imperial Klans of America, the nation's second-largest Klan group.

The Montgomery-based center filed suit last month in Kentucky's Meade County Circuit Court. The suit against the IKA contends that in July 2006, five Klansmen -- two on a recruiting mission for the group -- savagely beat Jordan Gruver, a 16-year-old boy at a Kentucky county fair.

"The latest case against the IKA promises to be as dangerous as anything we've faced," Morris Dees, SPLC co-founder stated in an e-mail "threat alert" Monday. "We won't back down from these threats, but we'll have to increase our security to ensure the safety of our staff."

There have been almost a dozen threats in relation to the suit, which was filed July 25. The SPLC began receiving the threats shortly after the suit was filed.

Although SPLC security director Tom Brinkman said it is company policy not to disclose details about security measures, he confirmed that additional measures have been taken.

A letter dated July 29 states: "If you do not change your stance soon, you will face a wrath of fury that you will never be able to defend yourself against. We have the ability to reach out and touch someone."

The letter allegedly came from Hal Turner, a white supremacist talk show host, Brinkman said.

Another threat to the organization states: "I say we should blow up their buildings."

The law center was torched in July 1983, when it was located on South Hull Street. So the organization takes threats like these seriously, Dees stated.

"Over 30 people have been jailed in connection with plots to kill me or blow up the center," he added.

Last month's lawsuit claims that as part of an official recruiting drive organized by the leadership of IKA, several members went to the Meade County Fairgrounds in Brandenburg, Ky., to hand out business cards and fliers advertising a "white-only" IKA function, according to a news release.

Two of the Klansmen at the fair began harassing a 16-year-old boy of Panamanian descent, calling him a "spic," according to the lawsuit. The suit said the boy, who stood 5-foot-3 and weighed 150 pounds, was beaten to the ground and kicked by the Klansmen, one of whom is 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds. The beating left the boy with two cracked ribs, a broken left forearm, multiple cuts and bruises and jaw injuries requiring extensive dental repair.

Two then-IKA members -- Jarred R. Hensley, 24, of Cincinnati and Andrew R. Watkins, 26, of Louisville -- each are serving three-year prison terms after pleading guilty to second-degree assault.

The center sued Hensley and Watkins for their actions in late February, with the July 25 filing adding the IKA and three other individuals.

Two calls were left on the IKA 24-hour hot line requesting a response from the organization. Attempts to reach an attorney for the group were unsuccessful because the IKA has not responded in court to the suit.

Capt. Huey Thornton, Montgomery police spokesman, said he is unaware of the SPLC informing police of any threats the center has received.

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