34. Standing Up For the Oppressed
In Bogalusa, Louisiana, the Deacons took on the Klan directly. In one confrontation, a Klansman was killed, and another was injured. On another occasion, a caravan of Klan cars drove through a black neighborhood shouting epithets and firing into some homes at random. To their shock, this time they received a fusillade of return fire, prompting the caravan to burn rubber as it fled. In another instance, white high school students had been in the habit of beating up black classmates, until the black kids fought back. Armed Klansmen showed up at the school, only to be countered by armed Deacons. The Klansmen withdrew.
The authorities eventually gave in, and abandoned the town’s segregationist practices. Bogalusa even hired its first black sheriff’s deputy, but the Klan responded by murdering him just a few days after his appointment. The mounting tensions eventually forced a federal intervention, and the US government used a Reconstruction-era law to force the local police to protect civil rights workers.