Civil Justice Victory Fights Racism
In a blow to one of the nation’s largest Klan groups, jurors yesterday awarded more than $2.5 million to a teenager who was assaulted by Klansmen at a county fair in rural Kentucky.
The verdict is expected to shut down the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), which has 16 chapters in eight states. “We intend to collect every dime we can on the judgment and do everything within our power to put the Imperial Klans out of business,” said Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen at a press conference after the verdict announcement.
The SPLC sued IKA leader Ron Edwards of Dawson Springs, Ky., contending that members of his Klan group attacked a 16-year-old U.S. citizen of Panamanian descent because they thought he was an “illegal spic.” Also named as a defendant was Jarred Hensley of Cincinnati, who served nearly three years in state prison for assaulting the teenager at a county fair in northwest Kentucky.
After deliberating for more than six hours on Friday, the jury returned the verdict shortly after 9:30 p.m. The jury found that Edwards had failed to properly supervise the Klansmen who attacked the teenager and that he had encouraged their violence.
Tort "reformers" criticize trial lawyers for going after the deep pockets. But when those deep pockets also happened to be paired with deep-seated racism and philosophies of violence that end in serious injuries to innocent people, I say, have at 'em. I am glad that this verdict not only brings some justice to the teenager who was assaulted, but that it also might help minimize the future impact of racist organizations like Klan affiliates.
Civil justice good, hate crime bad.