Daily Jewish Courier -- January 11, 1924The Ku Klux Klan Terror in Herrin (Editorial)
What is happening at the present time in Herrin, Illinois, where the bloody tragedy of the coal strike recently took place, is not a fight between the law-abiding element and the lawless element among bootleggers, but a fight between the Ku Klux Klan, which is strong there, and the rest of the population which is opposed to the Klan. It is a civil war on a small scale, a sample of what can be expected to take place all over the country if the Klan should become as strong elsewhere as it is in Herrin.
It is the same old story. The Klan commits, under the pretext of helping the machinery of the law, the most flagrant acts of lawlessness and violence. The Ku Klux Klan did not take up the fight for prohibition because they were ardent supporters of prohibition. That was hardly the case. Just recently 2a drunken Klan leader was arrested.....The Klan fights for prohibition because it is part of their business to seek out the sins committed by their opponents, but not by their own one hundred per cent Klanners. Prohibition gives the Klan a golden opportunity. The Klan seeks to spread its reign of darkness under the guise of investigating sin. The saddest part of the story is that many otherwise intelligent Americans are being misled into believing that the Klan does good work.
Not long ago, the majority of the better American press applauded the acts of the Klan in Oklahoma and endorsed its fight against Governor Walton, whose chief fault had been that he dared to come out against the Klan. We shall not be surprised if the same press also applauds the acts of the Klan in Herrin, and supports the Klan's demand that Sheriff Galigan be dismissed; Sheriff Galigan asked for state troops to prevent the Klanners from committing further acts of violence.3
There is another aspect to the events in Herrin, which is the most serious of all. This is the freely granted authority of the Federal Government, which the Klanners used to cover their acts of terror. The Chicago prohibition office accepted the "voluntary" service of the Klanners to help clean the bootleggers out of Herrin. A large group of Klanners, acting under the authority of Federal prohibition officers, armed themselves, and under the leadership of a certain Mr. Young, a man with a dark past, broke into the homes of [private] citizens and mercilessly beat up everyone, including women and children, who dared to protest against their acts.
The prohibition office committed thereby an unforgivable mistake, by shielding with governmental authority the lawless acts of the Klan. It is bad enough when private persons take upon themselves the prerogatives of law. It is much worse, however, when the government itself turns over its functions to a private organization which is based upon racial and religious prejudice and lawlessness. The execution of a law with the help of lawless gangs is 4a great danger to our entire system of law and order. We cannot protest too strongly against it.
I E, I B 2
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