In an item published Friday, the Associated Press erroneously reported that the Alabama NAACP shared in the $7 million jury award to a Mobile, Ala., woman in her federal lawsuit against the United Klans of America Inc. The NAACP withdrew from the suit Jan. 22 after the Klan signed a consent decree pledging to adhere to restrictions against acts of intimidation. (Published 2/15/87)
MOBILE, ALA. -- A federal jury awarded $7 million in damages yesterday against the United Klans of America and six past and present Klansmen in the 1981 slaying of a black teen-ager whose body was left hanging in a tree.
The verdict by the all-white jury was awarded to the family of Michael Donald, 19, who was beaten and strangled in Mobile in March 1981.
"I'm glad justice was done," Beulah Mae Donald, the victim's mother, said. "Money don't mean a thing to me. It won't bring my child back. But I'm glad they caught the guilty and brought them to court . . . ."
U.S. District Court Judge Alex Howard said he would hold a hearing within 90 days to determine the Klan's assets and what action was needed to turn them over to Donald's family and the Alabama chapter of the NAACP, the plaintiffs.
The verdict is expected to give the Donald family title to the United Klans' 7,000-square-foot national headquarters building in Tuscaloosa, said Morris Dees, an attorney for Donald's family.
State Sen. Michael Figures, attorney for the Donald family, called the verdict a "landmark ruling that would make sure Donald's death was the last Klan lynching."
Klan Imperial Wizard Robert Shelton, who had sat with the defendants in court although he was not sued, left the courtroom immediately, refusing to comment.
One Klan member is serving a life sentence in the Donald murder; another was sentenced to death.