Written and researched by Ren Jander.
It was a sensational story — perhaps dark fairytale is more accurate — started by the technology blog Boing Boing, wherein Donald Trump‘s father, Fred Trump, became the subject of intense media speculation as to whether his being charged for failure to disperse from a “Klan Parade” — as the event was grossly mislabeled — suggested he was a Klan member.
In casting aspersions that were soon to be carried by media titans such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, Boing Boing cited exactly one inconclusive news article from the NY Times of June 1, 1927. They offered no further research to clarify the situation and lock down all the facts before planting the suggestion that Fred Trump may have been a full fledged, card-carrying, robe/hood wearing Klan racist. And the mainstream media then followed right in their footsteps, further smearing Fred Trump, and by implication, his son.
Had the media actually sought the true story — as we did — they would have unearthed over one hundred historical news articles published by more than twenty newspapers exhaustively covering the front-page event in 1927 through the final court appeals in 1928.
But that research would have inconveniently crushed the false narrative that has festered for over a year now. The event was not a “Klan Parade”, nor was it a “Klan Rally” as Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times so grossly mislabeled it.
The event was an annual Memorial Day Parade that featured many local groups, schools, and societies from the Jamaica/Richmond Hill area in New York City to honor deceased veterans. It was attended by 100,000 people according to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle of May 31, 1927. The parade route came down Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, within a few blocks of Fred Trump’s residence at 175-24 Devonshire Road in Jamaica, Queens.
There is nothing about his being on the street in his hometown during such a patriotic event that would indicate any allegiance to the Klan. According to an article published on May 27, 1927, in The Long Island Daily Press, the Klan had been warned by the NYPD that they were absolutely forbidden to march in the parade wearing robes and hoods, but the Klan brought in 1000 Klansmen dressed in full regalia and 400 Klan women, most from out of town.
Two hundred NYPD officers tried to stop them, which led to a major riot that saw many Jamaica residents beating the crap out of the hooded racists and plotting to drop rotten eggs and food from rooftops on them. (See The Daily Star May 31, 1927, and The Long Island Daily Press of May 31, 1927.)
The event Fred Trump attended was simply a Memorial Day Parade that was crashed by the Klan. An article published in The Brooklyn Standard Union on June 7th, 1927, properly labeled the event as an “anti-Klan disturbance at the Jamaica Memorial Day Parade”.
Did any of our contemporary media outlets following on from Boing Boing report that Fred Trump was arrested at an “anti-Klan disturbance”? No. That didn’t fit the narrative the media wanted to report. If Fred Trump was arrested for failure to disperse an “anti-Klan disturbance”, it would appear he was fighting against the Klan, not with them.
On July 23, 2016, Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed in The New York Times titled ‘Is Donald Trump a racist?’ In that article, Kristof states:
…discriminatory policies were probably put in place not by Donald Trump but by his father. Fred Trump appears to have been arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927;
The smear just doesn’t work its dark magic if Fred Trump was arrested at an “anti-Klan disturbance” at a Memorial Day Parade, so Kristof mislabels the event as a KKK rally. That is not right.
The NYT is supposed to be a serious newspaper, but where is the research? Kristof has all of that paper’s money, staff and resources available to him. He could have found all of the reports necessary to the truthful disposition of the issue, but he doesn’t even cite one historical news report. The true facts would have destroyed the fraudulent narrative Kristof was tapping into, started by Boing Boing and continued egregiously by The Washington Post.
On February 29, 2016, Philip Bump wrote a very misleading article for The Washington Post entitled ‘In 1927, Donald Trump’s father was arrested after a Klan riot in Queens.’ Bump also mis-labels the event, never stating directly in his article that it was a “Memorial Day Parade”.
Bump’s piece predates Kristof’s and is therefore a very shady link in the fraudulent chain. Bump completely butchers his facts to make it appear as if the Klan had been out in Queens — before the riot happened — publicizing their forthcoming presence with fliers handed out all over the area complaining of the Roman Catholic police brutalizing Klansmen. Bump grossly misstates the facts, reporting:
The predication for the Klan to march, according to a flier passed around Jamaica beforehand, was that ‘Native-born Protestant Americans’ were being ‘assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City.’ ‘Liberty and Democracy have been trampled upon,’ it continued, ‘when native-born Protestant Americans dare to organize to protect one flag, the American flag; one school, the public school; and one language, the English language.
It’s not clear from the context what role Fred Trump played in the brawl. The news article simply notes that seven men were arrested in the ‘near-riot of the parade,’ all of whom were represented by the same lawyers.
At best, Philip Bump’s reporting on the issue of the fliers is grossly negligent. At worst, it’s intentional fraud. This is because the fliers he quotes were not “passed around beforehand.” They were passed around the day after the Memorial Day Parade.
The June 1, 1927, NY Times report makes this very clear by printing the text directly from the fliers, whereas Bump cut and pasted only what fit his fake narrative. This paragraph makes clear that the fliers were not printed beforehand – as Bump falsely proclaimed – but that they were printed up and handed out the day after in response to the riot:
We charge that the Roman Catholic police force did deliberately precipitate a riot and did tear down American flags and did unmercifully beat and club defenseless Americans who conducted themselves as gentlemen under trying conditions.
Obviously, the fliers make reference to the riot caused by the Klan’s attendance at the parade, so the “predication for the Klan to march” — as Bump puts it – is simply a false statement.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, in a front page story from May 31, 1927, the day after the parade, which was also the day the seven men were arraigned, makes it clear that the fliers were distributed a day after the riot:
The police-Klan clash, in which the police were outnumbered 1500 to 200, made the patriotic exercises of the day in Queens a sorry sight for the 100,000 who lined the curbing’s from Richmond Hill to Jamaica.
That the Klan intends to fight back was shown today by the distribution of thousands of circulars through Queens, bearing the heading in screaming type: ‘Americans assaulted by the Roman Catholic Police of New York City.’
Making Bump’s critical error even more baffling is the fact that Bump used very inflammatory pictures of robed Klansmen marching in his WaPo piece, and one of those images is taken directly from the May 31st Daily Eagle report. That same report makes it quite clear that the fliers were passed out the day after the riot.
So why are Philip Bump and The Washington Post going out of their way to make it fraudulently appear as if the inflammatory fliers were passed out before the Memorial Day Parade? Well, that fictional scenario fits their intended narrative of painting Fred Trump as a Klan member.
If Trump had taken the side of the Klan at a “Klan rally” or “Klan parade” that had been advertised beforehand with these Klan fliers, his arrest during a “police-Klan clash” would certainly imply that he supported the Klan, not the police. Grossly mis-labeling the event as well as twisting the facts to make it appear as if the fliers foreshadowed the riot is fraudulent journalism. And it reeks.
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Notice also that Bump’s WaPo article mentions that the seven men arrested were represented by the same attorneys. This fact was first reported by Boing Boing on September 9, 2015, when they introduced the June 1, 1927, NY Times article. That June 1st NY Times article does not claim the seven were Klansmen, but it does, in fact, mention that all seven of the men were represented by the same lawyers, Edgar Hazleton and Dana Wallace.
And the implication is quite clear: if Fred Trump was arrested with some of the Klansmen, and all of the men including Trump were represented by the same lawyers, then the Klan must have paid for those lawyers and therefore Fred Trump was probably in the Klan. But we can now report with certainty that Fred Trump was not represented by Klan lawyers.
The Memorial Day Parade was on May 30th. The seven men were arraigned the next day, May 31st. At the arraignment, Fred Trump was immediately discharged, while six other men plead not guilty and had to return on June 7th for the next hearing.
Hazleton and Wallace were associated attorneys gaining a lot of fame in 1927 for defending a woman named Ruth Snyder in a high society murder trial. And it was actually Hazleton who represented the seven men at the arraignment. The mystery of how he came to represent them was revealed by having a look at the hometown newspaper of the only man arrested in the riot who was sentenced to serve serious jail time, John E. Kipp (name misspelled in the June 1st NY Times article as “Kapp”).
Kipp was listed in the news reports as being from Peekskill, NY. But it appears he was actually from Hastings on Hudson. The June 3, 1927, edition of The Hastings News informs that Hazleton volunteered to represent the men as a kind gesture. The article entitled ‘Hastings Klansman Falls Foul Of Law At Jamaica Parade’ states:
Hazleton is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and volunteered his services to defend the misguided Hastingsite in his efforts to demonstrate that bigotry cannot be stamped out while the Ku Klux Klan is among us.
So here we learn that the Klan did not hire Hazleton, but rather he volunteered his services. In fact, the Klan would replace him in a few days with one of their own lawyers, and therefore it is firmly established that Fred Trump was never represented by Klan attorneys. He was discharged during Hazleton’s representation at the arraignment on May 31st.
The Hastings News of June 3rd also erroneously indicates that the seven men arrested that day were Klansmen, and this mistake was made by multiple newspapers just after the arraignment, before the men were heard in court. However, by the June 7th hearing, it emerged that only two of the men arrested on Memorial Day were Klansmen.
One of the big New York City papers covering this story in depth back in 1927 was The New York Herald Tribune. They ran a cover story on May 31st and a follow up on June 1st. They also were present at the June 7th hearing, reporting:
Paul M. Winter, field representative of the Klan in Queens County, announced yesterday he and George Herz, attorney for the order, will represent the men in court this morning, although not all are Klansmen.
The day before, June 6th, the Herald Tribune also reported:
One of the six defendants is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and two of the others are Klansman…
And The Long Island Daily Press of June 6, 1927, reported:
Of the six, Attorney Herz said two are Klansmen and one is a member of the Knights of Columbus, but that Major Emmet D. Smith Klan has hired him to defend them all.
Hazleton was now out of the case, and the remaining defendants then did have a Klan attorney, but Fred Trump was already discharged before this happened. So Trump was never represented by Herz.
Also, while Herz claims to have been hired to represent all of the men, he only ended up representing five of the six remaining defendants. The New York Times of June 8, 1927, reported:
Paul M. Winters, field representative of the Klan in Queens, announced that George W. Herz had been retained as counsel for five of the men. Mr. Herz claimed he was not ready for trial and in granting the adjournment to his clients Magistrate Giorgio granted it also to the sixth defendant.
The Brooklyn Standard Union of June 7, 1927, clarified that Thomas Carroll, a local resident of Jamaica (like Fred Trump), was not represented by the Klan attorney, reporting as follows:
George Herz appeared as counsel for the five defendants and asked for an adjournment. He said there were material witnesses not present to-day whom he would subpoena for Monday. The request was granted. Thomas Carroll, of 476 South street, Jamaica, appeared in his own behalf and obtained the same adjournment.
The Thomas Carroll information is very important to understanding the case. While many of the newspaper reports we unearthed mistakenly group all seven of the men arrested together as Klansmen, the court records, documented by the more accurate reporters of the era, make it clear that only two of the men arrested on Memorial Day were Klansmen, and only one of them wore a Klan robe.
This information destroys the sinister implications of another blog that joined Boing Boing, WaPo and the NYT in the false narrative smearing Fred Trump. The VICE blog published a report on March 10, 2016, that directly highlights their research incompetence (or fraudulence), prophetically entitled, ‘All The Evidence We Could Find About Fred Trump’s Alleged Involvement With The KKK.’ That article introduces five news reports from 1927 that discuss the Memorial Day riot. Three of those articles mention Fred Trump directly, while two of them do not.
The VICE admission in their headline that this was “All The Evidence We Could Find” suggests their research skills are not worthy of journalism, since there were more than one-hundred articles published on the event between 1927 and 1928, which they allegedly did not find.
The VICE hit piece on Fred Trump is by far the most bold in its defamatory implications. For example, VICE quotes from a June 3, 1927, report in The Long Island Daily Press (which is wrongly dated by VICE as June 2, 1927), as follows:
Another article about the rally, published by the Long Island Daily Press on June 2, 1927, mentions that there were seven arrestees without listing names, and claims that all of the individuals arrested were wearing Klan attire…
While the Long Island Daily Press doesn’t mention Fred Trump specifically, the number of arrestees cited in the report is consistent with the other accounts of the rally. Significantly, the article refers to all of the arrestees as ‘berobed marchers.’ If Fred Trump, or another one of the attendees, wasn’t dressed in a robe at the time, that may have been a reporting error worth correcting.
This is simply journalism evil 101 here on display, folks. This VICE piece starts with a big pic of the robed Klansmen marching, taken from the May 31st, 1927 the Herald Tribune (which does not mention Fred Trump as one of the men arrested.) That inflammatory image combines with the VICE assertion that Trump was probably a “berobed marcher”, and the reader is left with a certain feeling of disgust.
But this part of the smear is proven false. Our research reveals that only one of the men arrested on Memorial Day was dressed in a Klan robe. While The Long Island Daily Press carelessly referred to all of the arrestees as “berobed marchers” on June 3, 1927, in a brief article that day, the very same newspaper actually got the facts right for their in depth front-page coverage on May 31st, 1927, wherein all of the men arrested in the riot were named and discussed as follows:
According to the police record, the men arrested were John E. Kipp, contractor, Main street, Peekskill, charged with assaulting Sergeant Thomas Lockyer and Patrolman William O’Neill at Queens boulevard and Hillside avenue; Harry Free, Westbury avenue, Carle Place, L. I.; John Marcey, Yonkers. N. Y.; meat cutter; Fred N. Lyons, New Hyde Park; Thomas Carroll, 476 South street, Jamaica. Free was in the uniform of the Nassau county Rangers and Kipp wore a robe. The latter was taken from him at the station house and retained as evidence by orders of Captain McQueeney. Lyons and Carroll were accused of fighting at 159th street and Hillside avenue.
According to The Long Island Daily Press on May 31, 1927, the only person arrested in a Klan robe was John E. Kipp, an avowed Klansmen throughout all of the coverage and court sessions. Harry Free, also an avowed Klansman, was a member of the Nassau county Rangers, a Klan security group that dressed up as if they were police officers protecting the Klan-women.
These are the only two persons arrested that claimed to be Klansmen, and they are the only ones that were dressed in Klan attire. All of the others were arrested in civilian clothes, and they all denied they were members of the Klan throughout their arrests and subsequent court sessions. The minor report in the Daily Press of June 3rd, 1927, mistakenly contradicted their major coverage of May 31st, and VICE republished the error and flaunted it to smear Fred Trump.
If VICE had access to the incorrect minor piece in the Daily Press of June 3rd, then they had access to the in-depth, multi-story front page coverage of May 31st as well. But they failed to point out the crucial facts of distinction. Whether that was gross negligence or intentional fraud is not clear.
That only John Kipp and Harry Free were noted to have been arrested in Klan attire was also reported in a front page story by the local Queens newspaper, The Leader-Observer, on June 2, 1927, wherein they reiterated the information provided by the Daily Press on May 31st:
Free was in the uniform of the Nassau County Rangers and Kipp wore a robe.
In another front page story on May 31, 1927, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle also noted that only Kipp and Free wore Klan regalia:
Free was in the uniform of the Nassau County Rangers and Kipp wore a robe into the station house.
The June 17, 1927 Long Island Daily Press reports Harry Free’s explanation in court as to why he was dressed as a Ranger:
Free informed him there that the uniform was the offical regalia of the Klan police. This unit, he said, was organised to protect the women while in the line of march. Free was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct. He was dismissed by the magistrate.
VICE failed to report any research that contradicted the intended narrative smearing Fred Trump. And as we go over the timeline of events, the news reports from the various court hearings, sentencing, and appeals provide even more readily available elucidation that was completely missed and/or ignored by Philip Bump of WaPo, Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times, VICE, and Boing Boing.
The Memorial Day Parade was on May 30th; the arraignment was on May 31st, and Fred Trump was the only defendant discharged at that time; the first hearing was adjourned for the other six men on June 7th; and the first disposition of the rest of the charges happened on June 16th.
The June 16th hearing was covered in depth by The Long Island Daily Press of June 17, 1927, in a front page story. Only Kipp and John Marcey had to return to court after June 16th. The Daily Press discusses the facts pertaining to each man’s arrest.
The two most serious charges pertained to John E. Kipp and John Marcey. Both were accused of beating up the same police officer, and both were ordered to return to court at a later date to stand trial. The June 17th Daily Press mistakenly identifies Marcey as the one wearing the Klan robe, but it was definitely John E. Kipp in Klan garb.
Kipp was eventually sentenced to serve six months in prison, while Marcey was also convicted and sentenced to thirty days. But Marcey’s conviction was overturned on appeal, because he was arrested in civilian clothes, and the appellate court was not convinced he was a Klansman that helped Kipp beat up the officer in question. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle of April 6, 1928, reports:
The Appellate Division today affirmed [Kipp’s] conviction by Special Sessions, Jamaica, last November, but reversed its sentence of 30 days to John Marcy of Yonkers, dismissing it on the ground of insufficient evidence. Kipp wore the full Klan regalia and his identification was held complete.
John Marcey (sometimes the reports spell his name as “Marcy”) was from Yonkers, and his local paper, THE YONKERS STATEMAN, reported on April 6, 1928:
Kipp was attired in full Klan regalia. Marcy was in civilian clothes.
Furthermore, while Kipp maintained he was a Klansman at every stage of the trials and appeals, Marcey maintained that he was not a Klansman or marcher, and that he was in Jamaica to pay his respects to a deceased friend. The October 26, 1927, edition of The Long Island Daily Press reported on Marcey’s testimony as follows:
Marcy testified that he had come to Queens on Memorial day to visit the grave of a friend and had stopped to watch the parade. He denied that he belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. He was in civilian clothes at the time of the assault.
Marcy maintained that the crowd pushed him out into tho street and to escape being run down he leaped to the running board of a police flivver. He denied having assaulted any policeman.
Kipp was called as a witness. ‘Are you a member of the Ku Klux Klan?’ he was asked. ‘Yes, thank God!” he answered.
The facts pertaining to the arrests of Fred Lyons, Thomas Carroll and Thomas Erwin also contain no evidence of their being Klansmen either. The June 17, 1927, Long Island Daily Press, reporting on events at the June 16th trial states:
Lyons and Carroll who were arrested for disturbing the peace and causing a crowd to collect , were both found guilty of disorderly conduct and received suspended sentences. Lyons, who was represented by Hertz, said that he saw Carroll strike an old man who was pushed into him by the police. Grabbing Carroll’s arm, he said, he told the latter not to strike an old man, when Carroll turned on him. Both men were engaged in a fist fight when arrested by police of the Jamaica station. Carroll was not represented by counsel.
The disorderly conduct charge which was lodged against Thomas Erwin by Patrolman James Farrell of the Jamaica precinct, was dismissed by the magistrate after hearing the testimony. Farrell charges that Erwin pushed him on the side and became abusive by using vile and indecent language. There was no cross examination by counsel for the defense.
It was widely reported that the police response to the Klan’s presence was very intense and that many innocent bystanders were caught up in the riot that ensued. The facts that emerged in the various court sessions indicate that only two of the men were Klansmen.
The Daily Star of June 1, 1927 reports that Fred Trump was “dismissed on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so.” Trump was the only one of the seven to have his charges dismissed at the arraignment. The parade went straight through Trump’s hometown of Jamaica and was attended by 100,000 people. There is nothing at all connecting Fred Trump to the Klan.
These smears alleged by Boing Boing, Philip Bump of The Washington Post, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, and Mike Pearl of the VICE blog, are completely exposed as unwarranted and unsubstatiated. The event was grossly mislabeled as a “Klan rally”; Fred Trump was never represented by Klan attorneys; it was widely reported that only John Kipp and Harry Free were arrested in Klan attire; it was also widely reported that only Kipp and Free were Klansmen.
The damage done to Fred Trump’s reputation by this fraudulent smear is a sin of journalism. The motive for such disgraceful behavior was obviously to control the minds of the electorate and poison them with a suggestion that the apple of Donald Trump did not fall far from the tree of his father, Fred.
Please note that none of the guilty parties mentioned that Fred Trump gave away buildings and land for philanthropical purposes throughout his life. The Trump Pavilion at Jamaica Hospital was erected from a Trump donation. And the May 13, 1950, edition of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports:
If they ever erect a statue to a landlord, we nominate Fred Trump of the eBach [sic] Haven project. He provided the Board of Education with rent free classroom space for kindergarten classes on the premises and has provided mothers with a baby sitting service and a car to take them to the beach. Tomorrow every prospective mother in his projects, Beach Haven and Shore Haven, will be presented with a dozen’ roses.
But the most enlightening Fred Trump donation for the purposes of countering the Klan smear is found in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle report on August 9, 1954, that chronicles Fred Trump’s donation of land to the Jewish residents of his housing complex, so that they could build a synagogue and Jewish Center there, since they were using a garage for religious services:
The Beach Haven apartment development, which houses some 1,800 families in the Brighton Beach area, will have its own Jewish Center. The $100,000 structure will be built on land at Avenue Z and E. 1st St. donated by Fred Trump. Ground-breaking ceremonies will be held Sept. 12.
The Daily Eagle followed up on Sept. 10, 1927:
District Chieftain Joe Whitty has invited FDR Jr. to attend the groundbreaking exercises for the new Beach Haven synagogue. Builder Fred Trump donated the site for the edifice.
Donating land for a synagogue to be built is just about as far from Klan ideology as you can get.
Written and researched by Ren Jander.
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