Bowers Convicted of Murder

By David Drysdale

Jackson Clarion Ledger

August 22, 1998

Jackson, Miss—Samuel Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted on Friday of murdering Vernon Dahmer Sr. on January 10, 1966.  Bowers was immediately sentenced to life in prison.

The jury, which consisted of six blacks, five whites and one Asian-American, was the fifth Bowers has faced in the murder of Dahmer.  Four other all-white juries ended in deadlocks.

The Bowers’ decision is a landmark occasion because it marks the first conviction of a Klan leader.  Most people convicted in civil rights killings have been foot soldiers, triggermen like Byron de la Beckwith, rather than the leadership.

Vernon Dahmer Sr. was a storeowner, a farmer, and a member of the NAACP.  He was targeted by the Klan because he allowed blacks to vote in his store.

“He was working to make sure this day would come,” said Vernon Dahmer Jr., lauding the decisions in his father’s case.  “The system has now worked for us.”

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