80 Years Ago, when the Klan Marched through Downtown L.A.

In 2021, so called “Anti-Maskers” are wreaking havoc for Black and Latinx retail workers across Los Angeles, harassing official vaccination efforts at Dodger stadium, and gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to recall the 40th governor of California, which will prove an expensive campaign for the state to rebuff. There is almost no evidence that the LAPD or the FBI have significantly arrested or investigated members of these groups for their potential involvement in criminal activity against the larger public.

But this is not the first time that such groups have gone unchecked by local and state officials in California. 80 years ago, a group of hood-wearing white supremacists in Los Angeles similarly made their voices heard, and like today’s predominantly white “mobs,” they were also unimpeded by LAPD forces. The California Eagle reported:

The California Eagle on April 4, 1940; Courtesy of the Internet Archive

Failure of police to halt the parade of Kluxers was severely lashed by prominent leaders. Twenty hooded members of the Los Angeles Klan No. 1 marched through downtown streets handing out handbills denouncing communism.”

The California Eagle on April 4, 1940; Courtesy of the Internet Archive

While twenty hooded Klan members marching without a permit for two hours surely created panic for nearby African American service workers and other non-whites, editors for The California Eagle reported that no Klansmen were arrested or even questioned.

Editors for the paper also noted that: “Department officials explained that it was not necessary to obtain a parade permit, since there were assertedly less than 30 marchers. Violent protests are expected from civil liberties groups and private citizens. Rebirth of the Klan [had] been heralded for more than two years, but Saturday’s demonstration was the first blatant indication of active local participation.”

The California Eagle on April 4, 1940; Courtesy of the Internet Archive

Less than two years after the Klan’s march, on February 19, 1942, tens of thousands of Japanese American men, women, and children in Los Angeles would be rounded up at Union Station to be placed in Concentration Camps, as they were officially called at the time, where they would remain against their will for over four years.

Japanese Americans herded at Union Station to be sent to Concentration Camps, February 1942; Tessa collections at L.A. Public Library

And in 1943, “…with the Japanese out of the way, anxious white hysteria in Los Angeles led to increased targeting and attacks against Mexican Americans in the city, culminating with the arrest of 17 Chicano youth alleged to be members of the 38th street ‘gang,’ based on weak evidence accusing them of murdering a fellow Mexican American youth at ‘Sleepy Lagoon.'”

No reports or evidence of any Japanese Americans, Mexican Americans, or African Americans rallying for their “supremacy” throughout Los Angeles could be found, however.

J.T.

2 thoughts on “80 Years Ago, when the Klan Marched through Downtown L.A.

  1. Absolutely stunning how entitled racists have been able to do their ugly, hateful deeds throughout our US history. Here we are in 2021, and these same miscreants still walk our streets and even assault the seat of our democracy. They are all glued together through their immense ignorance and inability to move out of their slave-owning days. Sad to say, but whether it’s KKK or QAnon, these cultists are the dregs of society. They will not stop tryng to bring our democracy down, and Trump is largely to blame for condoning and embracing them. Let us not forget in 2022, 2024, and beyond.

Tell us what you think: