The guy at right (below) was part of a small group that seemed interested in confronting Griffin. He yelled at a police detective who photographed him, and things were tense for a moment before another officer, shown speaking to the yeller, intervened. Another member of the group (they were described to me by a third officer as "anarchists") said Griffin should not have been allowed to come to town, and should not have received police protection. Griffin was of course invited to appear by the Truth and Rec Commission, to talk about the last time Greensboro failed to provide adequate police presence at a gathering of the Klan and the Communist Workers Party.
The panel heard testimony from another (former) Klansman, Gorrell Pierce of Belew's Creek (below). Pierce was at the near-violent confrontation between the Klan and the CWP at China Grove, NC in July of 1979, an event that he said made 11/3/79 seem inevitable.
It was a good day for the Commission in terms of establishing its credibility and showing a willingness to hear views other than those of the march organizers and their allies (yesterday skewed much more in the other direction). In addition to Griffin, who was unrepentant but did say he came to Greensboro soley because of the fliers challenging the Klan to do so, and Pierce, who limned some of the history between the antagonistic groups, there was testimony from Elizabeth Wheaton, a scholar and author who cast some doubt on the CWP's effectiveness and true ambitions as a labor-organizing group, and who stated flatly that there was no evidence of a police or business conspiracy to allow the massacre to happen.
The end product -- the report -- will tell us once and for all whether this Commission is interested in writing history or propaganda. I detected a strong sense of seriousness and purpose today, but I couldn't tell if certain questions were asked to test hypotheses or confirm beliefs. I certainly hope it was the former, but some Commissioners came across as more ideological than others.
There was a big crowd, filling the auditorium for much of the day, and plenty of press. I saw no members of the City Council, which is somewhere between a shame and an embarassment.
Security was tight, polite, and appropriate. (Looking at a couple of very large men I asked John Hammer if he thought the GPD had sent its biggest guys; "I hope so," he said.) The Truth and Reconciliation group -- commissioners, staff, and volunteers -- have reason to be proud of their work this weekend. I don't think these hearings put all questions about the project to rest, but it was a good first effort.