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Page 23
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<< 22. Actions Hit Armed Forces Day24. Telegram from VVAW: Welcome Vietnam to U.N. >>

Plains GA KKK Rally Busted Up: Free Buddy Cochran!


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On July 2nd, Buddy Cochran, a white tractor mechanic from Americus, Georgia, ran his car into the speaker's platform at a rally of the Ku Klux Klan being held in Plains, GA, knocking the Imperial Wizard into the air.

In opposition to early press coverage which made buddy out to be some kind of drunken nut, Buddy Cochran in fact had a long-standing hatred for the oppression of Black people. He had spent three tours of duty with the Marines in Vietnam, fighting in the area north of Da Nang. There, he saw first-hand how Black troops were more than equal when it came to dying on the battlefield. Once out of the service, however, he also saw how Blacks were treated in Americus. And while he was in the Marines, Buddy had also see how the KKK worked at Camp Lejeune, and was afraid that the Klan violence he saw there would someday come to Americus.

After knocking the Wizard off the podium, Buddy was arrested and put in the Sumter County Jail in Americus; he is charged with 21 counts of aggravated assault and is being held under a $210,000 bond. The Justice of the Peace, John Southwell, was quoted as saying, "When you get someone like this you want to put them in the electric chair," making it amply clear where the courts of the area stand regarding the hooded wonders of the KKK.

Although the Klan had been building for the rally for months, the city fathers of Plains claimed that they knew nothing about any application for a permit or that the rally was going to take place. Actually, Bill Williamson, the Imperial Lizard, had been invited to the infamous Plains Baptist Church (religious home of President Carter and family) back in November in order to give advice to the people who were trying to keep Blacks out of the church. At that time he said he "would assist however possible in keeping Blacks out."

Earlier in the day on July 2nd, a group of five Blacks who had argued with a KKK turkey were quickly hustled away by local authorities. A small group of pickets at the KKK rally, carrying signs saying "Down with Hate," and "Love our Brothers," were told to leave because they didn't have a permit.

But it was not only the local Plains power structure that did nothing to disturb the Klan rally. In fact at the time that Buddy drove into the stage, none less than Miss Lillian, lovable and kindly old mother of the President, was watching from a car across the street, though she was quickly whisked away after Buddy launched his attack. And jolly old beer-drinking Billy Carter spent 10 minutes at the rally, though he had left before the Imperial Lizard took his well-deserved dive. Neither Billy nor the saintly "Miss Lillian" has yet said one word in defense of Buddy Cochran, nor against the meeting of the KKK in their hometown. None of the Carters, including the President, have done one thing yet to keep the Klan out.

As usual when the media are reporting someone who attacks those who try to divert the struggle of the people, they have to try to make out Buddy Cochran as an insane nut who was totally drunk at the time of the incident. Nonsense. In fact there is newsreel footage (which was only shown once) of Buddy arguing with Klansmen earlier in the day, telling them, among other things, that their paper, The Klansman, was "a pack of lies." Unlike the media picture of a sudden drunken impulse, Buddy had clearly thought out what he was going to do.

Since his arrest Buddy has said that he's "sorry that innocent people got hurt, but that seems to often be part of a just cause." A number of the injured spectators have refused to press charges, and several of them are actively supporting Buddy's action.

The Organizing Committee for a National Workers Organization has taken up the case as one more example of people fighting back. On July 4th they stage a picket line at the Sumter County Jail in buddy's support. VVAW will also be actively working in defense of our fellow veteran. A Buddy Cochran Defense Committee and a Defense Fund have already been established. The Organizing Committee has said that they will be ready to meet the Klan if they should try to return to the area, and, despite a number of threats, Buddy Cochran's wife remains strong in support of her husband's action.

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