39. Standing Up to Racist Violence
By the time the Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s, the KKK had grown accustomed to preying on African Americans with impunity. Close cooperation between the Klan and law enforcement was pervasive and often open. Southern cops frequently denied civil rights activists police protection, and sometimes cooperated with the KKK in murdering them. In 1964, for example, police in Philadelphia, Mississippi, detained three civil workers, then coordinated with the Klan to lynch them upon their release from jail.
So during the 1950s and much of the 1960s, the Klan had free rein to terrorize and murder civil rights workers. The widespread violence prompted many activists to arm themselves for self protection. Dr. Martin Luther King’s home had so many firearms, that visitors compared it to an arsenal. Police having demonstrated clearly that black lives did not matter, armed black groups emerged for self defense. Most notable among those pioneers were the Deacons For Defense and Justice.