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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Rumors of a growing local Ku Klux Klan chapter swirled, but members claimed the group was misunderstood

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

Spokane police received confidential tips the Ku Klux Klan was organizing in Spokane and had already recruited 100 men.

This alarming news had police on edge.

“Officials say that any act of violence or any threats of violence will meet with strong disapproval and that the police department, as a body upholding law and order, will then do all in its power to break up the organization,” the Spokane Daily Chronicle wrote.

Local organizers, however, claimed that “the purposes of the local organization are entirely different from those of the organizations operating in the South.”

They claimed that they were intending to use “political influence, rather than threats and violence,” as a way of getting results. They claimed the “Negro question” does not “enter into the policy of the local branch.”

What “results” were they seeking, then?

They wanted “law and order,” and believed that too much leeway was given to criminals and too many restrictions were placed on the prosecution. They said they wanted strong action taken against “fiends” who lure boys and girls to secluded places.

The Chronicle editorial page weighed in by saying that citizens have the privilege of organizing a society, even if they want to call it the Ku Klux Klan. But it is “not the privilege of any society to terrorize citizens … (or) to start a reign of violence, mob action, lynch law, under any pretext whatsoever.”

From the robbery beat: Two armed men held up the First State Bank of Bonners Ferry and locked two employees in the vault.

The robbers made off with $8,000, and escaped by taking the Great Northern train out of town before the alarm could be raised.

The two employees were released about 15 minutes after the robbery when they were able to shout out the vault’s combination to a rescuer.Also on this date

(From Associated Press)

1821: Peru declared its independence from Spain.

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