N Carolina city apologizes for deaths at 1979 anti-KKK rally

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — A city council in North Carolina has approved a resolution which apologizes for the shooting deaths of five demonstrators at a 1979 rally against the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party.

The Greensboro City Council voted 7-2 on Tuesday night to approve the resolution, which says in part that the city admits the police department neglected to act on knowledge it had that the Nazis and Klan were planning violence, the News & Record of Greensboro reported.

“This apology is 41 years too late,” councilwoman Michelle Kennedy said. “On behalf of the 5-year-old kid I was then … I am sorry for what the city of Greensboro failed to do on that day and for the things that we did. There is nothing in my professional life or in my adult life that means more to me than saying what we are saying tonight and the only thing I regret is that it didn’t happen 41 years ago.”

The resolution also creates a scholarship for five high school students in memory of the five who died.

The demonstrators were shot and killed during the Nov. 3, 1979, rally at a low-income housing community in Greensboro. Juries acquitted several people of killing the protesters and wounding others. A subsequent civil case found six members of the Klan and Nazi party and two Greensboro police officers liable for wrongful death in what’s now known as the Greensboro Massacre.

Councilwomen Nancy Hoffmann and Marikay Abuzuaiter voted against the resolution, saying they couldn’t support it because they feel it suggests that the police somehow colluded in bringing about the shootings.

“The words of this resolution continue to place the police department and our city under a cloud of negativity,” Hoffmann said. “While it may be preferable to find yourself in the majority on substantive policy matters, there are times that circumstances do not permit that.”

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said the resolution needs to be viewed in a historical perspective.

“I don’t believe that there was any conspiracy or collusion between the Greensboro Police Department and other parties,” Vaughan said. But, she added, the police purposely took a “low-profile approach” to the event.

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