1979.

The Greensboro Massacre


Waller v. Butkovich

On November 6, 1979, in Greensboro, North Carolina, a “death squad” established by the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan of North Carolina gunned down six textile plant union organizers on a public street. The organizers were in the process of conducting a racially-integrated effort to organize a labor union in a local plant. At the time of the killings, they were leading an “Anti-Klan Rally” to “push back” against the Klan and Nazi effort to intimidate workers from joining the union.

The crimes occurred in front of TV cameras, which filmed the KKK and Nazi assailants holding up photos of the persons to be assassinated and then shooting each organizer through the head.

Within months, the Klan and Nazi assailants were acquitted of murder charges by an all-white State jury. Then, less than a year later, the killers were acquitted of civil rights violations by an all-white Federal jury.

Refusing to stand by after the public gunning-down of peaceful demonstrators in the United States, the Christic Institute filed a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the assailants. The legal team, led by attorney Daniel Sheehan, conducted an investigation that proved that an “Official Numbered Informant” of the FBI (one Eddie Dawson) and an undercover agent of the  Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Division of the United States Treasury Department (one Bernard Butkovitch) actively instigated the attack. Allegedly, this action was meant to “draw out” the Klan and Nazis, and have them bring out a supply of automatic weapons with which to gun down the demonstrators.

Based on the results of the investigation, the Institute won a $1 million judgement for the violation of the civil rights of the public demonstrators and labor organizers. The verdict against five assailants representing the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party, the Greensboro Police Department, and the City of Greensboro was the first successful prosecution of Klan, Nazi, and police collusion in North Carolina history.


Other Landmark Cases

Iran Contra Affair

Under a new application of the provisions of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Criminal Organizations Act (RICO), Christic brought charges against and exposed 29 people involved with the Iran-Contra Affair. (Avirgan v. Hull, et al)

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American Sanctuary Movement

The first vindicating argument in the American Sanctuary Movement came from Christic’s defense of Catholic workers who provided sanctuary for refugees seeking political asylum. (U.S. v. Stacey Lynn Merkt, et al.)

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Three-Mile Island Incident

When Reactor 2 at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, suffered a partial meltdown on March 28, 1979, the Christic Institute legal team was called in to help oversee the legal proceedings and represent victims of the disaster. (PIRC v. Three Mile Island)

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Karen Silkwood

The Christic Institute won a record-setting $10.5 million judgement against the Kerr-McGee chemical company, effectively ending construction of all new nuclear power plants in the United States for 30 years. (Silkwood v. Kerr McGee)

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