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The Case Of A KKK Shooting In 1980 Chattanooga

Tiffany Herron stands in front of the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building and Courthouse where the civil trial against three Ku Klux Klansmen took place in 1982.

Tomorrow night, a presentation here in Chattanooga looks back at a case that rocked this city, four decades ago.

In 1980, four black women were hit with birdshot fired from a moving car outside a nightclub on what was then Ninth St. - “The Big 9” - and now, Martin Luther King Boulevard.  A fifth woman was injured by flying glass.  All of the women lived. 

Three members of the Ku Klux Klan were charged with attempted murder.  An all-white jury acquitted two of the men - and sentenced the third to nine months in prison and a fine.  He served only three months.  

Days of rioting followed the verdict.


Then, the women filed a federal civil lawsuit - the first time that the Ku Klux Klan was sued in civil court.  An attorney from New York, Randolph McLaughlin, represented the women.  This jury - five of its members, white and one of them, black - ordered the Klan to pay 535-thousand dollars, creating a legal strategy for dismantling the Klan across the country.

Tomorrow night, Randolph McLaughlin will give a presentation on the case for the first time here in Chattanooga - starting at 5:30 PM at The Bessie Smith Cultural Center.

Tiffany Herron - a student here on this campus, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga - shares how she learned about this case and tomorrow’s presentation...

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