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Vietnamese Fishermen’s Association v. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
518 F. Supp. 993 (1981)
In the Kemah-Seabrook area of Texas, in 1981, certain American fishermen in the shrimping business claimed to be concerned about overfishing, which these fishermen attributed to Vietnamese fishermen. One of these American fisherman invited the Texas Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan (Klan) (defendant) to speak at a rally regarding this issue on February 14, 1981. This date was exactly 90 days before the start of shrimping season, on May 15, 1981. At the rally, the Grand Dragon, Klansman Louis Beam, stated that it was necessary to fight and to see blood. He offered to provide military-style training for American fishermen. A boat was burned, a cross was burned, and Beam stated that he was giving government authorities only 90 days to take action regarding the Vietnamese fishermen or the Klan would handle the situation. Over the course of the next three months, the Vietnamese fishing community was subjected to various threats of violence and acts of intimidation. For example, one month after the rally, some American fishermen and Klansmen staged a boat ride into a bay with armed Klansmen dressed in robes and hoods. The boat contained a figure hanging in effigy and had a cannon that the occupants fired. In addition, shrimp boats were burned, and individual fishermen and their family members had guns pointed at them. Even people who did business with the Vietnamese were targeted with threats. Finally, the Klan threatened to place armed men on the boats of American fishermen on May 15, upon request, which made some Vietnamese fishermen afraid of being killed if they tried to continue fishing when shrimping season began. On April 16, 1981, the Vietnamese Fishermen’s Association (plaintiff) filed suit, asking a court to grant both a preliminary and a permanent injunction preventing the Klan and the individual American fishermen from further violent or intimidating acts that were designed to obstruct the Vietnamese fishermen’s civil rights.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (McDonald, J.)
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