Texas Rights Director Files Complaint Against KKK

Executive Director Bill Hale, of the Texas Commission on Human Rights, has initiated a complaint of discrimination against the Ku Klux Klan under Article IX of the Texas Fair Housing Act.

The complaint was filed against the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the white Camelia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as Michael Lowe and Charles W. Lee, acting in their official capacity as Grand Dragons.

The complaint, filed November 16, alleges that the Klan leaders tried to stop Black families from moving into an Orange County Housing Authority complex in Vidor, Texas.

Director Hale said the Klan "has crossed the line" between freedom of speech and threats of intimidation in attempts to protest the integration of an all-white apartment complex in Vidor.

"Any individual has constitutional guarantees," Hale said. "I appreciate rights to free speech and anyone can protest, but the Klan has crossed the line. I do not intent to tamper with freedom of speech, but I also do not intend for the KKK to do what the law prohibits."

Both of the Klan groups have conducted public and private rallies to protest integration in Vidor and to recruit members. Hale did not discuss specific contentions against the Klan.

Vidor Mayor, Ruth Woods, and housing complex residents have said the Klan has threatened them with physical harm. "I have been through a lot of anguish over this," Woods said. "Only through law enforcement agents, have I found out about the threats."

Hale said he had backing for the complaint against the Klan from Governor Ann Richards, U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, and a number of state legislators and federal officials. He said his office has subpoena and injunction powers, and he might ask other federal agencies to help in the investigation.

Texas Commission Implementing Federal Court Order

The Texas Commission on Human Rights is directly involved in implementing a federal court order in Young v Kemp to desegregate 70 public housing authorities in 36 East Texas counties. Part of that plan involves moving Blacks into all-white apartment complexes in Vidor. The Texas Commission also enforces its own strong fair housing law which is based on the 1988 federal Fair Housing Act. That law and the Texas agency were the first to be deemed equivalent to the new stronger provisions in the 1988 Federal Act.

Education For Desegregation Under Young v. Kemp

The Texas Commission on Human Rights was approved September 30, to receive $306,000 in education and outreach funds under HUD's Fair Housing Initiatives Program. The Commission will conduct an extensive program of workshops and seminars to help the victims of housing discrimination in East Texas. They will train residents and potential residents of public housing and Section 8 housing.

Attorneys and public officials will learn about their responsibility under the court decision. Private housing providers will be trained to participate in Section 8 housing. The Texas Commission will also train trainers for testers in a broad effort to discover where discrimination continues.

The court order required HUD to use FHIP money to encourage desegregation in public housing in the 36 East Texas counties. That order came in September 1990. The court had found liability in 1985. An interim injunction was issued in March 1988. No agency applied under HUD's first Notice of Fund Availability for fiscal 1991. The Texas Commission applied under the second NOFA for Fiscal 1992.

Klan activities in East Texas have been extensively reported in Texas newspapers. An October Phil Donahue show featured interviews and video tapes from Vidor.