On Oct. 2, a city council meeting brought into question the integrity of the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) Greensboro police officers identified as control agents for KKK wizard and its role in policing civil animosity. Several attendees at the meeting raised concerns over how the department’s civil emergency unit managed recent tensions.
At the UNC Chapel Hill protests in August, officers were criticized for using pepper spray on anti-racism protesters while escorting neo-Confederate group members from a rally in support of the Silent Sam monument. However, a more stark allegation came from activist Mitchell Fryer, who claimed that two Greensboro police officers were serving as control agents for an imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
Fryer shared with the council an article published by Nate Thayer earlier this year, in which a detailed allegation traces police involvement with hate groups back to 1979. In November of that year, a caravan of Klan members and neo-Nazis led by a police informant named Edward Dawson resulted in the deaths of five anti-racist protesters in what is now known as the Greensboro Massacre.
Fryer continued the meeting by outlining the criminal behavior of Christopher Barker, an imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, and implying a connection between the Greensboro Police Department and Barker, who lives northeast of Greensboro.
Barker, according to Thayer’s article, became an informant for the FBI after he was involved in a domestic terrorism plot in 2012. Although he was involved in a stabbing shortly after and violated the terms of his federal parole by illegally possessing a firearm, Barker’s criminal charges were quietly dropped.
Fryer informed council members at the meeting that those responsible for the suspicious conduct of Barker’s offenses were handlers of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Two of these handlers were Steven Kory Flowers and Robert Finch, who are Greensboro Police Department officers.
Fryer voiced the concern that if members of the GPD are covering for or otherwise defending the Ku Klux Klan, the police department may also be utilizing illegal surveillance to tag members of the public that oppose the KKK’s practices.
Fryer believes that the GPD is responsible for putting the public at risk, saying in the meeting that he is “further concerned that the relationship with Barker has gone past mere protection, enabling the KKK’s activity.”
Councilwoman Goldie Wells brought Greensboro Chief of Police Wayne Scott to the podium to address Fryer’s claims, where he acknowledged Flowers’ and Finch’s employment at the GPD, but did not confirm or deny their role as control agents or handlers for Christopher Barker.
Scott claimed that his officers are acting “well within the law” and stated that the GPD is “transparent up unto what the law allows.” When prompted for further information, Scott said that Fryer had included “misleading information,” but did not address this information in detail. Scott also defended the civil emergency unit following the incident in Chapel Hill, which led members of the crowd to criticize him not only for praising the officers’ conduct, but to call for the disbanding of the unit.
During the meeting, Signe Waller-Foxworth, whose husband was killed during the Greensboro Massacre, called Scott to explain the history of surveillance of left-wing groups by a unit of the Greensboro Police Department, which was then referred to by activists as the “red squad.”
“[Klan informant] Dawson told police which Klan and Nazi groups would be present on November 3, 1979 to confront a pro-labor, antiracist assembly that was scheduled to hold a…peaceful rally and then an educational forum…the upshot of this police activity, combining intelligence gathering and field operations, gave us the…massacre, said Waller-Foxworth in the meeting.
“You may not be accustomed to thinking about the Greensboro Massacre as…local police collaborating with a right-wing death squad, but that’s exactly what it was.”
Fryer concluded Waller-Foxworth’s statement by adding that the Greensboro massacre was in mind when he decided to name Flowers and Finch as KKK control agents. Since the exposure of Barker as an FBI informant, GPD agents have continued their relationship with him, prompting Fryer to question the validity of the information Barker provides, and why they continue to protect him.
Fryer raised concern from others at the meeting, who now worry that, with the history of police involvement with right-wing antagonists considered, the GPD may be placing anti-racist activists in danger.