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Civil Rights Group Suing KKK In Kentucky

A civil rights group is suing the second-largest Ku Klux Klan group in the United States, alleging some of its members beat a 16-year-old boy at a county fair southwest of Louisville.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., said five members of the Kentucky-based Imperial Klans of America attacked the boy at the Meade County Fairgrounds in Brandenburg, Ky., in July 2006. The attack left the teen with two cracked ribs, a broken left forearm, cuts and bruises.

The center sued the Klan in Meade County Circuit Court on Wednesday and is seeking unspecified damages.

The center contends in the lawsuit that the Klan was recruiting at the Meade County fair by passing out cards and flyers advertising a "white only" function. Two Klan members saw the teen, Jordan Gruver, and began shouting racial epithets. The two men, Andrew Watkins and Jarred Hensley, threw whiskey in Gruver's face, knocked him down, kicked him with steel-toed boots and beat him. Along with the physical injuries, the attack left Gruver with extreme emotional distress.

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Gruver, who is an American citizen of Panamanian descent, is afraid of being attacked again. The suit was filed because there has been a surge of anti-immigrant violence in recent months, and it appears that Gruver was attacked because he looks Latino, Cohen said.

"We want to put a stop to this kind of violence," Cohen said. "They targeted and viciously beat our client solely because he has brown skin."

The Imperial Klans of America's Web site lists its mailing address in Dawson Springs, Ky., and its Exalted Cyclops as Ron Edwards. The Dawson Springs site has played host to the Klan's annual "Nordic Fest," a weekend of speeches and music centered on the Klan's message of white supremacy.

An e-mail sent to the address listed on the Imperial Klans of America site was not immediately returned Wednesday. The last posting on the Web page was dated September 2006.

Watkins, 28, and Jarred Hensley, 24, of Cincinnati, are each serving three years in prison. They pleaded guilty in February to second-degree assault under extreme emotional disturbance. Each is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, as is the Klan organization, Edwards, J. Edward of Meade County, Ky., and Joshua Cowles of Brandenburg. The lawsuit identifies Edward and Cowles as members of Imperial Klans of America.

Brandenburg is about 42 miles southwest of Louisville.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has taken Klan and white supremacist groups to court before. The center won a $6.3 million verdict from Aryan Nations in 2000. That judgment forced the group to sell its Idaho compound. It also won a $7 million verdict from United Klans in 1987 for the lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama.
By Brett Barrouquere