Bearing the bodies of their five fallen comrades, member of Communist and anti-Ku Klux Klan groups, perhaps 2,000 strong, are expected to march through this embittered city Sunday.
Marchers, National Guardsmen and state troopers began arriving here today for what is officially seen as a funeral procession, political, parades still being banned in the wake of last SaturdayS gun battle between Communists and carloads of Klansmen and Nazis.
That "Death-to-the-Klan" rally, rare in American confrontations, resulted in the deaths of four Communists cut down on the spot, a fifth fatally injured and the jailing of 14 klansmen and Nazis jailed on murder and conspiracy charges. Four of the dead were white. The fifth victim was black.
An estimated 900 police and National Guardsmen are to be on hand, with emergency orders to arrest anyone carrying firearms. Normally, guns can be carried openly on North Carolina streets.
Several right-wing organizations have told their members to ignore the march, but some Communist leaders have promised that their followers will be armed.
After little consultation with march organizers, the police Friday set the route of the funeral procession and warned marchers not to deviate from it. There was conflicting information a week ago as to the time and place of the anti-Klan rally, but police have acknowledged that they had the Klan caravan under surveillance before the shootings.
It was revealed this week that a local man, who identified himself as a Klan member, obtained a copy of the "Death-to-the-Klan" parade permit and route some time before last Saturday's rally.
The man, thought to be Greensboro Klansman Edward Dawson, was also reported present at a gathering spot early last Saturday when a caravan of Klansmen arrived from southern North Carolina.
Most of those arrested were from Lincolnton, Hickory, Maiden, Newton and gastonia, small mill and furniture towns northwest of Charlotte. They apparently had been organized by a Gastonia man, Virgil Griffin. Griffin is wanted by the FBI for questioning, but no charges have been filed against him.
The Klansmen's intentions apparently were mixed. They had seven dozen eggs for heckling, but, according to a police affidavit, a search of a Klan van also turned up ammunition, shotguns and a .22 cal. revolver as fresh as the eggs -- the receipt for its purchase was with it.
The exact sequence of last Saturday's events is undetermined, but, at 11:23 a.m., political warfare was in full swing. Some leftists were armed, and one Klansman was wounded, but when silence fell over the scene, a low-income housing project, four Communists were dead, one was mortally wounded and nine others were injured.
Many of the left-wing demonstrators had confronted Klansmen at China Grove, N.C., on July 8 at a showing of D.W. Griffith's 1915 film, "Birth of a Nation," which in passing treats the Klan sympathetically. The event was noticeable for the display of firearms, and a lack of violence.
The Klansmen arrested here were from a different Klan group, and some were not members at the time of the China Grove incident. Their cars were pounded by the leftists, and lawyers for the 14 men charged in the killings plan to argue self-defense. They have been held in jail without bond.
Greensboro officials have urged residents to stay away from Sunday's funeral march, and have worked to keep the city calm. Meanwhile, both the Communists and some Klansmen saw benefits in the killings.
Klansmen say the event underscored what they say is a communist threat within the country.
But the Communists, who have vowed to "turn grief into strength," view as martyrs the five casualties of a not-yet-launched revolution.
Known variously as the Communist Workers' Party and the Workers' Viewpoint Organization, they have been in North Carolina trying to organize textile mill workers. Now they have national publicity, and Sunday's funeral is a major event for them.