Kathy Ainsworth

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Kathy Ainsworth

Kathy Ainsworth (born Kathryn Madlyn Capomacchia July 31, 1941 - June 30, 1968) was a Mississippi fifth grade school teacher and Ku Klux Klan bomber killed by a paramilitary police squad in a FBI-ADL death trap.[1] Ainsworth and her companion Thomas Tarrants were both members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the most militant white resistance organizations during the Civil Rights era. On September 18, 1967 the couple bombed Temple Beth Israel in Jackson, Mississippi.[2] Their bombing target on June 30, 1968 was the home of Meyer Davidson, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) leader in Meridian, Mississippi.

Contents

Life

Kathryn Madlyn Capomacchia was born to Antonio Capomacchia and Margot (Margaret) Marshon in Chicago, Illinois on July 31, 1941. Her father was of Italian background and her mother Hungarian. Both of her parents were entertainers; her father performed as a circus juggler and her mother a dancer.[3] The family, which included an older brother, settled in Miami, Florida. Her parents were divorced.

Kathy attended Coral Gables High and graduated with honors.[4] After graduation she attended Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. There she became acquainted with a professor, Dr. W. M. Caskey, who was also an adviser to the state’s segregationist Governor, Ross Barnett. In class, Dr. Caskey would discuss the racial situation and the threat from “outside agitators.”

In August 1967 she married Ralph Ainsworth, a manager of two health clubs. The couple honeymooned at Gerald L. K. Smith’s tourist attraction and religious theme park Christ of the Ozarks.

White activism

Kathy Ainsworth was a member of the Americans for the Preservation of the White Race in Jackson, Mississippi and spoke frequently at their rallies. An APWR spokesman said Ainsworth "tried to teach her students true Americanism and firm Christian beliefs."[5] She also had membership in three different Klan organizations. In addition to the White Knights of Mississippi, she held membership in the United Klans of America (Alabama) and the Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Louisiana).[6]

FBI-ADL death trap

In Mississippi, local Jews were the victims of a series of recent Klan bombings. In response the B'nai B'rith and the Anti-Defamation League began to raise several thousand dollars to pay informants willing to betray the bombers. Meridian police chief C. L (Roy) Gunn, who himself was on the Klan hit list, asked if the ADL would object to using the money to "to purchase bodies and not testimony."[7] One of Gunn’s sergeants Lester D. Joyner formed a blackshirted commando squad called "Joyner's Guerillas" and had been waging their own private war against the Klan by firing into Klansmen’s homes at night and detonating explosives on their lawns.[8] Adolph I. Botnick regional director of the ADL in New Orleans helped in raising the money among the Jewish community and worked with the FBI and Meridian police in setting up the death trap.[9] Botnick who worked with four others in the original planning said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, "We were dealing with animals and I would do it again."[10]

The FBI found two Klansmen, brothers Alton Roberts and Raymond Roberts, who were willing to cooperate.[11] Alton Roberts was out on appeal from the conviction of murdering the three famed civil rights activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1964. On June 19 the Roberts brothers approached Danny Joe Hawkins--who helped Tarrants in the bombing of the Meridian synagogue on May 26--and convinced him the next target should be ADL head Meyer Davidson. Davidson led a drive to raise $75,000 for information on the bombing of the synagogue.[12] Hawkins decided not to participate suspecting he was under surveillance. Kathy Ainsworth at the last minute agreed to help Tarrants with the next bombing.

On June 30, 1968, Kathy Ainsworth and Thomas Tarrants drove to the home of Meyer Davidson planning to place the bomb on his front porch. The FBI had moved the Davidson family out of their home earlier and occupied the house across the street as a command post with 8 to 10 agents.[13] That night 12 members of "Joyner's Guerillas" wearing black polo shirts were hiding in the bushes across from the Davidson home.[14] Reporter Jack Nelson was later told by police their objective was to kill Klan bomber Thomas Tarrants, "We had in mind killing him, I don't mind telling you."[15]

Ainsworth remained in the car as Tarrants approached the ranch-style yellow brick home on 29th Avenue. He carried a box containing 28 sticks of dynamite wired to a clock set for 2 a.m. The police opened fire with a hail of gunfire reminiscent of a scene from the 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde. Ainsworth died, shot through the neck as she leaned over to open the door for Tarrants. Tarrants was hit 19 times but survived.[16]

At the time of her death Kathy Ainsworth was a fifth grade teacher at a segregated Citizens' Council elementary school in Jackson, Mississippi. She was three months pregnant and did not apply to renew her contract at the school.[17] Kathy Ainsworth is buried in Magee, Mississippi.[18]

Aftermath

The Roberts brothers received $36,500 in payment from the FBI.[19] Also a FBI agent who acted as intermediary received $2,000.[20] No grand jury was ever called to look into the involvement of the Meridian police or the role played by the FBI and ADL.[21]

Conspiracy theories

Kathy Ainsworth has been mentioned in conspiracy theories involving the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Some have speculated Kathy Ainsworth was the girl in the polka dot dress who Sirhan Sirhan saw before he shot the senator.[22] Robert Kennedy as US Attorney General was instrumental in integrating the University of Mississippi in 1962 by sending in Federal Marshals and placing the University under military occupation.

In the King assassination, the mother of Kathy Ainsworth said her daughter and Tarrants were in Memphis, Tennessee April 4, 1968 the day King was shot and played a role in jamming police communications.[23]

Notes

  1. BOOK REVIEW : Klan and FBI Wounded in Hail of Bullets : TERROR IN THE NIGHT: The Klan's Campaign Against the Jews By Jack Nelson
  2. The Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi: a history, By Michael Newton, page 177
  3. Nelson, p. 142
  4. Nelson, p. 143
  5. "Meridian Policeman Clings Grimly to Life", The News and Courier (Charleston, SC), July 2, 1968, page 3-A
  6. "Pretty Teachers Life as a Terrorist Revealed", The Spoksman-Review, July 7, 1968
  7. BOOK REVIEW : Klan and FBI Wounded in Hail of Bullets : TERROR IN THE NIGHT: The Klan's Campaign Against the Jews By Jack Nelson
  8. The Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi: a history, By Michael Newton, page 179
  9. Confronting right-wing extremism and terrorism in the USA, By George Michael, page 127
  10. "Trap that Ended KKK Bombings", St. Petersburg Times, February 13, 1970
  11. The Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi: a history, By Michael Newton, page 180
  12. "Trial Under Way for Mobile Man Accused of Attempted Bombing", Gadsden Times, November 18, 1968
  13. Guide to careers in the FBI, By John E. Douglas, page 98
  14. BOOK REVIEW : Klan and FBI Wounded in Hail of Bullets : TERROR IN THE NIGHT: The Klan's Campaign Against the Jews By Jack Nelson
  15. BOOK REVIEW : Klan and FBI Wounded in Hail of Bullets : TERROR IN THE NIGHT: The Klan's Campaign Against the Jews By Jack Nelson
  16. Former KKK terrorist cites C.S. Lewis’ faithful obedience
  17. "Meridian Policeman Clings Grimly to Life", The News and Courier (Charleston, SC), July 2, 1968, page 3-A
  18. Nelson, p. 192
  19. "Inquiry on FBI in Klan Death Urged", The New York Times, April 8, 1970
  20. "Trap that Ended KKK Bombings", St. Petersburg Times, February 13, 1970
  21. "The End and the Means" (editorial), St. Petersburg Times, February 21, 1970
  22. Who was the girl in the polka dot dress?
  23. Was selfish greed behind Martin Luther King, Jnr.'s assaination?

Further reading

  • Nelson, Jack. Terror in the Night: The Klan’s campaign against the Jews. Simon & Schuster, 1993 ISBN 0-671-69223-2.

See also

External link

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