When Klansmen Killed “a thousand future generations of n*ggers”

The reply from the Civil Rights Division was insulting and dismissive, to say the least…

20 Sep 1982

Ms. Mildred Glover

State Representative,

District 32

735 Lawton Street, B.W.

Atlanta, Georgia   30310

Dear Ms. Glover:

The Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights has asked me to respond to your letter of August 19, 1982 concerning the investigation into the matter of the missing and murdered children in Atlanta.

As you know, the Task Force which investigated this offense was made up of State anp style=”padding-left: 30px;”d Federal agents.   You may be sure that all the evidence was carefully evaluated to determine whether violations of State or Federal statutes existed.   After careful examination of the evidence, Federal authorities concluded that no violations of the Federal criminal statutes could be established in any of the cases handled by the Task Force.

We are referring your letter to the FBI in Atlanta for consideration of the new evidence which you have brought to our attention.


Wm. Bradford Reynolds

Assistant Attorney General

Civil Rights Division


Daniel F. Rinzel


Criminal Section

The Security and Terrorism Subcommittee

On February 10, 1982, the following series of questions were posed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, a member of the Committee on the Judiciary, to FBI Director William Webster after his testimony at  the Security and Terrorism Subcommittee.


1. I believe you told the Congress that the Bureau had a “tenuous” jurisdiction under the federal kidnapping statutes and the Justice Department concluded there was “no basis for a civil rights investigation.” On what basis did the Federal Government have the authority to investigate the Atlanta slayings?

2. Why was the FBI unable to enter the investigation initially due to lack of jurisdiction, but able to enter later with no apparent change in the facts regarding jurisdiction?

3. Did the FBI enter the case, as some have suggested, simply because the Atlanta slaying had become an issue national” in scope and effect a “national crime disaster area” — irrespective of a sound jurisdictional basis?

4. When U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti “ordered” the FBI, as well as the Justice Department, to offer their full coopera­tion to the Atlanta police, did he in effect “order” the FBI to exceed its traditional jurisdiction?

5. Why was the federal response in Atlanta, particularly that of the FBI, so slow in coming?

6. The technical assistance of two investigators (specifically the services of a special agent who is an expert in the development of behavioral profiles and an FBI agent who is a specialist in the development of visual investigation aid systems) was offered to the city on November 6, 1980. “At some point in very late 1980 or early 1981, a decision was made to send in more assistance. (By February 11, 1981, “some 26 FBI agents” had been assigned to “work with” Atlanta’s 35-member special task force.) Who made that decision, at what time, and when did additional help actually arrive in Atlanta?

7. At some point, the FBI “assistance” in Atlanta developed into an independent investigation running on parallel, and sometimes counter, tracks to the local efforts. At what point did the “assistance” burgeon into a full investigation? Can you provide some idea — the number of agents and the dates on which they became active in the investigation — of how the investigation force grew?

8. Once the FBI became committed to the situation in Atlanta, their investigation proceeded on a separate track from that of the Special Task Force which was made up of local law enforcement officials, who made the initial decision that the FBI not be a part of the Special Task Force?

9. Is it possible — simultaneous inquiries by two independent investigating groups — fostered much of the difficulty encountered in the investigation? Wouldn’t such an arrangement hinder communications, increase the risk of duplicated effort, reduce the chance of apparently unrelated information “coming together” in the process of an integrated investigation, and in other ways fetter the often slow and piece­meal development of a successful Investigation?

10. Was the two track investigation in fact preferable in the beginning or did other factors determine the structure of the investigation? Was the FBI unwilling to be integrated into the Special Task Force or was there an inability or unwillingness to integrate the FBI into the Special Task Force?

11. You were criticized for your announcement that four of the child murders were “substantially solved” at a time when Atlanta police said that they were not aware that any case was near resolution. Could this have been avoided by having had the FBI integrated into the Task Force? Similar criticism occurred following statement by an FBI agent not assigned to the case at a Macon, Georgia, Civic Club meeting that four of the children had been killed by their parents because they were considered “nuisances.”

12. Regardless of their effect on the actual investigation, don’t such statements undermine public confidence that law enforcement officials are dealing adequately with these highly publicized cases?

13. Do you believe there is any validity to the criticisms raised against the FBI concerning the conduct of the investigation from May 22 to June 21, 1981?

14. Is there any internal investigation underway of possible FBI misconduct? If such an internal review is complete, were any problems discovered?

15. Was the investigation of Mr. Williams, especially the occurrences immediately following the incident at the bridge less than a first-rate job in your estimation?

16. Do you think it was appropriate for the FBI to press for an arrest in the case before local prosecutors felt they were ready?

17. Finally, a high-level official on the Special Task Force was quoted in the New York Times last July as saying, “The FBI wanted to solve the case themselves.” “They wanted all the credit, but instead they have made it more difficult to resolve the guilt or innocence of the suspect.” What can we do to minimize the rivalries, which can disrupt investigations, if the Federal Government is going to get involved more heavily in crimes, which in the past have been left to state and local authorities?

It was a show hearing, of course. Jack shit was done.

Why Nothing Was Done: the Senate and Congress Were Long Infested with the Klan

hugo_black_cartoon hugo_black_road_cartoon

The members on the Committee on the Judiciary included at least one former Klansman, Sen. Robert Byrd (D), and Sen. Strom Thurmond (R), with deep ties to the same. Thurmond, perhaps one of the fiercest segregationists in high office at the time, was the Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary. It was literally a matter of the fox in the hen-house. Please keep in mind this is an important fact, because the key motive behind the killings was the issue of integration; for example, “stop forced bussing (sic) or I will kill 3 more black boys in March” as noted in the top warning note above. Byrd and Thurmond spent most of their lives fighting integration. In fact, Robert Byrd had the record for the longest filibuster in history, and it was made in an effort to block the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In essence, the Klan was still fighting his fight, and Strom’s, and this time as brazenly as possible.

We’d see them again in the Oklahoma City Bombing, and again, Thurmond and Byrd were still in office and no less influential as before.

hugo_newsclippingIn the Atlanta Child Killings, rather than expose the Klan and violate an oath of secrecy and loyalty, they scuttled the investigation. These were powerful men who could bring the FBI Director to testify at will, let alone induce him to fire any subordinates. It should be noted that Klan members reached the highest levels of offices, and included at least two members on the Supreme Court between then and the 20s, Hugo Black and Chief Justice Earl Warren, formerly Klan leader in Bakersfield, California.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Hugo Black to the Supreme Court, his Klan history was no secret, and there was controversy. But as he stated at the time he would either appoint him, or lose the Southern vote in the coming election. Unfortunately, this was very, very true.


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