The police did not arrest any member of the Sanders family. They allowed them to continue their systematic murders unmolested. Instead, the greatest concern of police officials was to keep the identity of the murderers secret. Police officers were told that no information about the klan's involvement in the murders could be revealed to anyone outside of a small committee of Atlanta police and GBI officials. All evidence relating to the klan was kept secret even from the "Joint Task Force", to avoid leaks. GBI Director Phil Peters told officers that absolute secrecy about the klan was imperative to "avoid a race riot." Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Brown was warding off questions, saying: "There are literally hundreds of things we are doing that we can't talk about. We can't compromise the investigation."

In May, 1981, the "investigation" into the Sanders family was officially closed, the officers involved were reassigned, and the files and vaults containing the evidence were sealed.

On June 19, 1981, a high-level meeting took place at Governor Busbee's mansion to discuss the murders. Present were the governor, top police officials and probably Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and Vice President George Bush. Although no transcripts of this meeting are available, the events that followed indicate that those present agreed not to arrest the klan murderers and to arrest a Black man instead.

On June 21, Wayne Williams, an Afro-American who worked as a small-time entertainment promoter, was arrested and charged in the deaths of two Black men in their twenties. Over the following months a well-orchestrated publicity campaign was carried out by government officials and the capitalist press to convince the public that Williams was responsible not only for the two deaths he was charged with, but for most of the child murders as well. He was quickly convicted and sent to prison.

Immediately after the trial, the investigation into the murders of the children was closed. In July, the GBI destroyed the bulk of the evidence about the Sanders family.

The Relationship Between the Government and the Klan

Why did the government allow the klan to commit these hideous murderers, month after month? Why did it cover-up the klan's responsibility and why has it protected these murders from prosecution to this day? These are vital questions which only can be answered by looking into the historic and ongoing relationship between the government and the ku klux klan.

The klan and other similar fascist paramilitary organizations are used by the ruling class to repress and terrorize the masses of working people. The klan was founded by the former slave owners after the Civil War to violently restore their rule over the Black Belt South. Over the last century, klan terror has been essential to the efforts of the small minority of wealthy white landowners and capitalists to enforce their rule over the Black majority in the Black Belt South, as well as the white working people.

The klan has traditionally been organized through the police and sheriffs departments. It has, therefore, always been an appendage of the capitalist state apparatus. It is an extra-legal arm of state repression which works together with the legal arms of state repression (the police, the military, the courts, etc.), to terrorize the people. The klan and other fascist para-military groups are used to carry out acts of terror which the government wants to see done but cannot carry out openly. They are the U.S. equivalent of the "death squads" that operate in El Salvador, Guatemala and other countries.

The klan is financed by wealthy capitalists and is armed by the police and military. This has been well-documented by a vast array of facts that have come to light over the years. The newly uncovered police documents on the Atlanta murders shed further light on this arrangement. The documents reveal that during the period that the child murders were taking place, a klan leader on the GBI payroll sold members of the Sanders family a large cache of M-16 military assault rifles and several cases of fragmentation grenades. The sale was carried out with the GBI's knowledge and approval. The Sanders family had in its arsenal, in addition to the M-16's and grenades, bazookas and plastic explosives.

This same police hireling also supplied the Sanders with large quantities of drugs. In addition to being protected from prosecution for the child murders, none of the Sanders were arrested for- the illegal drug and weapons trafficking that was carried out between the family and police operatives.

Workers march in Atlanta to protest the child murders, March, 1981.

Liberals Colluded In Protecting the Klan Killers

The U.S. government apparatus at all levels (local, state and federal) was involved in the operation to cover-up the klan's responsibility for the murders. It is important to note that liberal politicians, who profess to be against racism and fascism, colluded completely with this cover-up. In fact, it was the liberal Black political officials in Atlanta who played the key role in protecting the klan. The investigation into the murders was presided over by a Black mayor, Maynard Jackson, and a Black police commissioner, Lee Patrick Brown. These two traitors to their people covered up the klan's responsibility, protected the klansmen from prosecution and suppressed the people's efforts to defend themselves. Because they refused to arrest the klan killers, the blood of the murdered children is on their hands, too.

The entire liberal and reformist movement came to the aid of the government in its efforts to mislead and pacify the people. The Afro-American reformist movement, which represents the interests of the Black bourgeoisie, played a particularly important role. Joseph Lowery, Coretta Scott King, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young and others all played their part. They repeated the lies propagated by the government and the capitalist press, telling the people that they, too, did not believe the klan was involved in the murders.

In November, 1980, Ozell Sutton, a representative of the U.S. "Justice" Department's Community Relations Service called the leaders of the Black reformist organizations in Atlanta to a secret meeting. In addition to leaders of the NAACP and the SCLC, representatives of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta police department attended the meeting. Sutton advised those in attendance: "There is some perception in the Black community of this [the child killings] as a concerted attack on Blacks. We hope to get the community leaders in a position to allay these fears. Perceptions can cause you as many problems as facts. They must be dealt with affirmatively or they may get out of control." The lackeys of the Anglo-American ruling class faithfully carried out their assignment.

The politically aware people in Atlanta and around the country were not easily fooled. From the beginning they believed that the klan or other racists were responsible. Revolutionary leaders explained to the people that these murders were a systematic campaign of brutality carried out by the ruling class, through the ku klux klan, to terrorize the Afro-American people. The Liberation League and the Movement Against Racism and the Klan published a special joint newspaper about the killings in May, 1981, in which they declared: "The attacks on Atlanta's Black children are the work of organized fascists." They explained: "Given the long history of racist attacks against Black people in Atlanta and Georgia and the current increase in klan and fascist terror throughout the country, the most logical explanation is that the murders are being committed by one or more klansmen or fascists, or by someone under the influence of their ideas." The joint publication specifically pointed to the National States Rights Party as a likely perpetrator of the murders.

The reformist misleaders attacked those who told the people that the klan was committing the murders, claiming that they were being "irresponsible" by making "unsubstantiated claims," and inflaming the people's anger "without cause." The facts now show who was lying and who was telling the truth.

The main goal of the reformists was to derail any independent revolutionary organization and action by the people. They were particularly concerned with preventing the efforts to organize armed self-defense. By 1981, a number of people were taking this course of action. A group of Black veterans, for instance, offered to train Afro-Americans to defend their families. Orvell Anderson, a leader of the group, said "We're going to try to stop this brutality that's being done to our children. We're advocating self-defense. Those who cannot protect themselves, we would protect them." In March, 1981, armed patrols were organized by residents of the Techwood housing project.

The Liberation League and the Movement Against Racism and the Klan called on the people to further develop this resistance. "The murders in Atlanta will stop when its residents organize to defend themselves, as the Black veterans and the Techwood residents have begun to do. They must seek to shut down white supremacist military camps. They must make Stoner and the NSRP afraid to show their faces in Georgia... The working and oppressed people of Atlanta, when they are organized and prepared to resist the fascists, are the one force that can put a stop to the murders, and to all fascist attacks."

Maynard Jackson, who was Mayor of Atlanta, cynically offered $500,000 in reward money for the killers. Jackson and other officials knew who the killers were and allowed them to continue their murderous pogroms without interference.

The reformist preachers and politicians, on the other hand, condemned all efforts at independent organization and self-defense and tried to convince the people to rely on the police and the government authorities to stop the murders. Rev. Lowery denounced those organizing self-defense, saying, "if violence is the problem, violence cannot be part of the solution." Instead, Lowery and others encouraged the people to collaborate with the "investigation" being carried out by the police/FBI task force. The reformists mobilized many gullible people to join the mass search parties led by the task force. In retrospect, the whole odious design is clear as day: while the police/FBI task force was leading hundreds of people on wild goose chases through the woods, police informants were selling the murderers automatic rifles and grenades and listening to them brag about the killings. The height of the irony of the police/FBI task force was reached when police invited Mitchell WerBell and the Camp Cobrey Rangers to lead the search parties. WerBell is a well-known fascist and an international arms merchant and drug dealer. Camp Cobrey is a major para-military training camp in Georgia which prepares mercenaries to fight for the fascist regimes in southern Africa, Central America and elsewhere. These were the people the reformist misleaders were asking the people to place their trust in.

Maynard Jackson, who was Mayor of Atlanta, cynically offered $500,000 in reward money for information about the killers. Jackson and other officials knew who the killers were and allowed them to continue their murderous pogrom without interference.

The Liberals Will Not Fight Fascism

Even now that the evidence against the klan has been uncovered, the Afro-American reformists are trying to bury the truth and protect the killers. "You shouldn't cry over spilt milk," was the cold-blooded reply of Andrew Young, the current mayor of Atlanta, when asked what he was going to do about the murder cases. The actions of the liberals and reformists around the Atlanta child murders speak volumes for their true intentions: while they publicly decried the killings, they helped protect the killers.

Why do the liberals collude in protecting the fascists, such as the ku klux klan? Their class nature dictates that they must. They represent the ruling class, the capitalist billionaires. Although they may have tactical differences with the fascists, who represent the most reactionary sector of the ruling class, the liberals share with them the common aim of defending the rule of capital and preventing revolution. Their goal is, therefore, to hide from the people the true nature of the U.S. state, as a dictatorship of the capitalist class. They must hide the fact that the government organizes the KKK and other fascist para-military groups. And they must prevent the workers from organizing any real resistance against the government and its fascist hirelings. The liberals place themselves at the head of mass movements against fascist terror only in order to mislead them and guide them down the dead-end path of reformism and pacifism.

The Afro-American reformists have the same aims as their Anglo-American (white) counterparts. They represent the interests of the Afro-American capitalist class, which has tied its fortunes to the existing system of national oppression and class exploitation.

As the facts about the klan's responsibility for the child murders are revealed, the liberals are formulating excuses for their protection of the klan. According to their apologists, the liberal officials (Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, etc.) kept the klan's responsibility for the murders a secret from the people to "prevent a race war." * But this explanation itself exposes the liberals' true aims. If they were truly interested in harmony between Black and white people they would use all of the resources at their disposal to crush the klan murderers. But this is not their concern. They are content to allow the klan culprits to remain free and to continue their atrocities aimed at stirring up national hatred. What they are concerned with preventing is any resistance by the oppressed people. They are deathly afraid that the Afro-American people and their allies will rise up in rebellion against these horrendous crimes. This is the reason they have shamelessly deceived the people about the Atlanta child murders.

* This apology is being advanced by William Kunstler and the other attorneys representing Wayne Williams, in particular. Kunstler, a well known bourgeois liberal lawyer, and his associates went so far as to ask permission from the liberal politicians in Atlanta (Jackson, Young, etc.) before they made the secret police documents public. For this reason we do not know if they made all of the documents in their possession public or if they held some back that would have been particularly damaging to their friends among the liberal politicians.

Lee Patrick Brown, head of the Atlanta police at the time, and Eldrin Bell, his deputy chief (shown here), along with other Black police officials, played a key role in protecting the klansmen who were killing the Black children in Atlanta.

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