#TBT: Greensboro Massacre

Forty years ago, a shootout between white nationalists and left-wing activists left five dead in Greensboro, North Carolina. This is what happened during and after the 88 second bloodbath.

The wounds still run deep

In broad daylight on November 3, 1979, gunshots rang out in Greensboro, NC. Hostility between the Communist Workers Party and the Ku Klux Klan had been escalating. With no police in sight, a caravan of cars filled with white supremacists drove by the CWP’s rally
to oust the Klan from town. Anti-racist activists beat on the passing cars. Klansmen and Neo-Nazis responded by opening fire. Lasting 88 seconds, the shootout left 5 anti-Klan protesters dead and at least 10 wounded. An informant had warned them of the Klan’s plans.

Those accused of firing on demonstrators were later acquitted in 2 criminal trials. These two acquittals have been taken by the Nazis as a green light. A civil lawsuit found several white supremacists and 2 police officers responsible for the death of one of the demonstrators. evidence suggested Klansmen and Nazis intended to provoke violence that day, and police made no effort to intervene or even warn demonstrators about the planned confrontation. The family of one victim also sued the city, which ultimately paid them a $351,000 settlement after jurors found several people — including members of the police force — liable for his death, WFDD and the Department of Cultural Resources reported.

This was all long before the Charlottesville car attack in 2017 and the Charleston church shooting in 2015. The commission recommended certain steps for reconciliation, including formal acknowledgment from the city and an apology from the police department. They also suggested a monument be constructed on the site of the shootings, but none was built, according to the Department of Cultural Resources. A highway historical marker sits at the intersection of McConnell Road and Dunbar Street in Greensboro. It reads: “Ku Klux Klan members and American Nazis, on Nov. 3, 1979, shot and killed five Communist Workers Party members one-tenth mile north.” The city council finally apologized for the massacre in 2017.