Wednesday, January 05, 2011

This Day in Illinois History - Jan. 15

On this day in Illinois history, Jan. 15, 1924, Williamson County Sheriff George Galligan asked Gov. Len Small to withdraw state militia troops from the county.

The sheriff had requested troops following government-led raids staffed by hundreds of members of the Ku Klux Klan against bootleggers and others in Herrin and surrounding communities

Though sanctioned initially by federal authorities, incidents of abuse that took place in the raids had risen to the level of diplomatic complaints by the counsels of France and Italy on behalf of their citizens in the county.

Anti-Klan sentiments had risen and the sheriff (with this two full-time deputies) had no way to guarantee the public safety.

Klan and anti-Klan forces negotiated and worked out an agreement on the night before at a meeting at Herrin City Hall. On the 15th at 11 a.m. Galligan made his request to the governor to remove the troops.

Over the next few days he and his men conducted raids on bootleggers, but received no help from Klan supporters or their hand-picked local police.

The peace lasted six days when the Klan violated the agreement and began raids of their own.

After additional raids and reprisals, chaos erupted early in February and the governor ended up sending nearly a thousand troops to control the county.

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