Terror in the night : the Klan's campaign against the Jews



Transcription of Annotations

Notes on front endpapers: P. 113--Sam Brown on Klan. FBI--Money talked. Phila. murder. Bill Minor and Judge--208. What about a movie? Where did you get the Moore (FBI) memo about meeting with him--p. 137. Underlinings/notes: White Knights of Ku Klux Klan, Sam Bowers. Klan--bombed, torched 44 black churches during summer '64. 4 cartons of info. on case. Most participants still alive, all lives/beliefs changed by what happened. Kathy Ainsworth--26. Thomas Albert Tarrants III--21. Danny Joe Hawkins. Ross Barnett. Laurel Leader-Call--bombed in '64. '65--FBI est. White Knights 5-6,000 mem. Only imperial wizard could order a number 4--murder. Vernon Dahmer's murder brought massive FBI response. Moore charged Bowers and 13 Klan with civil rights violations. All-white hung jury. Ainsworth with Bowers in Jackson on Sept. 18, '67. Ainsworth's friends/colleagues unaware of extremist beliefs. 10 pm Sept. 18, '67--reached Jackson, heard bomb. Joe Harris not only Jew in Jackson who blamed rabbi for bomb. Perry Nussbaum--tactless, abrasive, outspoken, headstrong. Congregation--he did not get what it meant to be a Jew in South, too liberal. At Jackson airport, asked position on desegregation; Nussbaum kept views private. Harry Reasoner CBS documentary. Jackson White Citizens Council. State-supp. Miss. Sov. Comm. 300 councils, 65,000 members. Miss. 3,250 Jewish pop.,1955. Northern Jews--50% of demonstrators, 70% lawyers who represented them, Jewish. Summer '64 turning point. Bowers/White Knights plan/carrying out kidnapping/killing of Schwerner, Chaney, Goodman. Spring/Summer '67--mounting tension. Rabbi Nussbaum, Six-Day War, Anis Shorrosh. Exchange between Nussbaum/Shorrosh sensation; Jackson unaccustomed to religious leaders mixing in international politics. Bob Hederman, pub. of Clarion-Ledger, brother Tom, ed., exerted great infl. throughout Miss. Baptists declared that Jews could not attend First Baptist Church. Nussbaum's activities Bowers. Sept.=Temple Beth Israel's time to host annual meeting of Miss. Religious Conf. Attack on Nussbaum led by John Hart Lewis. Explosion would have killed rabbi had he been there. Danny Joe Hawkins's father, Joe Denver Hawkins. Johnnie Mae Hawkins. Diligence rewarded--side street spotted Hawkins, son Danny Joe, J.L. Harper parked in separate cars. Response of FBI/police agencies to Beth Israel bombing, extraordinary. 140 Jewish households in Jackson. Younger men incl. Joe Harris wanted immed. action. Binder/Jews wanted clear expression of outrage from Christian comm. Whites strong reaction to Jewish violence. Largest, most powerful denomination, Baptists, absent. FNI secretly employed domestic counterintelligence program. Oct. 6--bomb exploded at home of Dr. William T. Bush, Tougaloo College; work of White Knights. Bowers saw himself the moral/ intellectual descendant of Founding Fathers. Oct. 20, '67--found 7/18 defendants guilty as charged--incl. Roberts, Bowers, Price. 1st time Miss. jury convicted members of Klan/white law enforcement officer. Due to convictions/informants--memb. in White Knights declined. New attack-- after 12 A.M., Nov.15, '67, parsonage of Rev. Allen Johnson, black minister. 4 nights later--Tarrants and Kathy Ainsworth struck Kochititzky, Klan may have thought he was Jewish. Bomb exploded on porch. FBI Klan recording gave Binder sense of urgency. Nussbaum admon. Hudgins for lack of support, bombing would not have happened had he decried the bombing of the synagogue. Joe Harris sug. group of Jews kill the bombers. Crystal/Rabbi Nussbaum went to see Thompson, who suggested the house would not have been bombed if Rabbi not active in Civil Rights. FBI defended temple. Binder invited Nussbaums to stay at his house--could not depend on police--filled with Kluckers. Dec, 20, '67, Marshall Buster Lott invest. car Ala./plates, nets Samuel H. Bowers, Thomas Albert Tarrants III. Tarrants charged with federal offence, ill. poss. of a machine gun. Tarrants/Bowers publicly linked. Al Binder--Jews' only reliable allies--Roy Moore/FBI. FBI relationship good w/ arch-segregationists Robert/Thomas Hederman, who ran Jackson papers. Hoover--transformed FBI to aggress. enemy of KKK. Southern FBI powerful tool against Klan; agents walked the walk; talked the talk of South. Jackson FBI office 250 agents, caseload 2000-2500 cases/month. Breakthrough on interviews-- easier to recruit Klan informers. What motiv. informers? 1. Facts of life; 2. Money; 3. Threats within Klan. Extramarital affairs rampant in Klan--getting out of bed with black paramour/talking with the FBI. Nicholas Katzenbach--value of activities lost with extensive publicity--may be possible to place these achievements on pub. record so FBI can receive due credit. Binder married to novelist Paige Mitchell. Mississippi legislature created Sovereignty Commission,1956. Commission scheduled Binder to speak at a Klan rally. Binder befriended William Kunstler while civil rights lawyer in Jackson. After trial, Binder saw jurors walk from Mayor Thompson's office. Transformation of Al Binder like reshaping of FBI in the South, was a grad. process. Frank Watts given list of Meridian targets--Roy Gunn, police chief, Meyer Davidson, I.A. Rosenbaum, Al Rose and his own name. Bill Ready--Meridan weird place--pop. by Baptists, financed/owned by Jewish community, gov. run by Catholics. Rev. R.S. Porter. Charles Johnson--fearless. Porter, tough man who liked his rifle. Schlager in Meridian--after Nussbaum bombing, Meridian Rabbi Milton Schlager warned congregation. Paula Ackerman, Mrs. Nellie Kass. Might happen in Germany, but not in Meridian. Frank Watts saw Riberts brothers as FBI's best hope. Roberts brothers--Raymond, Alton Wayne, Lee, on police force, Lloyd. Bowers looking for sober, intelligent, courageous, white, Christian American white men--do not accept Jews because they reject Christ, Papists because they bow to a Roman dictator. Key to recent attacks on Jews--someone outside area who had linked up with Bowers--"the Man." May 2, machine gun fired into Flossie Lindsey's home--6-yr-old niece's leg hit by bullet. May 26, '68 Synagoge 3 mil. from Schlager's house, blown-up. Tarreants and Danny Joe Hawkins had submachine guns/explosives. Binder and Jackson, Jewish leaders made reward avail. for Meridian invest. Gunn grew-up believing in segregation; dramatic conversion--took seriously oblig. to enforce law evenhandedly, turned against racial violence; dedicated to rid Mississippi of Klan. Gunn decreed no more "nigger talk" in depart., law applied equally to all. Bee Botnick--Gunn and Key asked if Jewish businessmen putting up the reward would purchase bodies, not testimony, to have 2 Klansmen liquidated. Raymond and Alton Raymond Roberts, Tommie Tarrance. Tom Hendricks, go-between with FBI. Tarrants' wallet, list of potential targets: Charles Evers, Aaron Heny, NAACP leaders in Mississippi, two Selma, AL ministers, Fred D. Reese. Bowers primary target--9 murders, 300 bombings, beatings, burnings. Thomas Albert Tarrants III trial, Nov. '68. Minor guilty, to serve 30 years.


Nelson, Jack, “Terror in the night : the Klan's campaign against the Jews,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed November 29, 2022, http://booknotes.gmu.edu/items/show/249.


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Terror in the night : the Klan's campaign against the Jews


Nelson, Jack


Program air date: February 7, 1993.


Pulitzer Prize winner Jack Nelson, familiar to millions from TV's Washington Week in Review, is one of America's toughest reporters. For over forty years, he has covered it all, seen it all - and told the truth. One story stands out for him above all others. Now in the tour de force of his long career, Nelson shows us the civil rights movement's last unreported front - the Ku Klux Klan's war against Southern Jews. Piece by piece, Nelson re-creates this bitter campaign. and assembles the secrets surrounding what is perhaps its most disturbing episode: a top secret plan to trap the Klan's most elusive bomber. In 1967, Nelson was a young reporter covering his home state of Mississippi. Around him, the South was exploding. As citizens absorbed the news of the brutal slayings of three Northern civil rights workers, the Klan set its sights on a new target - Southern Jews. Quietly, the Klan's top bomber slipped across state lines. In the fall of 1967, the battle began as a crude explosive device ripped through the walls of the newly completed Temple Beth Israel in Jackson. A few months later, the home of the temple's rabbi was reduced to ruins by a second bomb. Reports of hit lists and new targets spread through the South. When the third bomb exploded on May 27, in a synagogue in the small town of Meridian, Mississippi, the Jewish community cried out for action. When the FBI discovered a Klan plot to bomb another synagogue, this time with women and children inside, the rage grew uncontrollable. A plan that some thought too dangerous, too risky, too radical was put into action by FBI men and local police, bankrolled by the Jewish community. Nelson shows us how this plan played out, despite a last-minute near disaster. We meet unforgettable characters, including the Hawkinses, the Klan's fiercest family; the police and the agents; and Kathy Ainsworth, the quiet schoolteacher whose secret life included midnight bombings and a lover whom few Klan members knew by name, a man whose bombs had ignited terror throughout Mississippi. Terror in the Night is exciting reading and truly extraordinary journalism.


"Ku Klux Klan (1915- )"
"Jews--Mississippi--Meridian--History--20th century."
"Jews--Mississippi--Jackson--History--20th century."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


Simon & Schuster
George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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