Mobile, AL. 12/6/2015. On March 21, 1981. After the declaration of a mistrial regarding an African American being charged with the murder of a white policeman in Mobile, Alabama, Bennie Jack Hays, the second-highest-ranking officer in the United Klans of America said “If a black man can get away with killing a white man, we ought to be able to get away with killing a black man.”
Armed with a gun and rope, Bennie Hays’s 26-year old son Henry Hays and 17-year old LIewellyn Knowles drove around Mobile looking for black to attack. At random, they spotted Michael Donald walking home after buying his sister a pack of cigarettes. The two men kidnapped Donald and drove to another county where they beat Donald with a tree limb. They then tightened a noose around his neck, before slitting his throat and hanging him from this tree across the street from a house owned by Klan leader Bennie Jack Hays.
Henry Hays was sentenced to death by the electric chair on June 6, 1997. Hays is the only known member of the Ku Klux Klan to be executed during the 20th century for the murder of an African American.