How an 1871 civil rights law morphed into a police protection act
Police officers point their weapons at demonstrators protesting against the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 18, 2014. Photo by Joshua Lott for Reuters.

In 1871, six years after the end of the Civil War, the state of race relations was awful in the United States. Yes, the Union had defeated the Confederacy and forced the end of slavery. Yet in Northern as well as Southern states, official and unofficial racist policies were everywhere, and segregation in housing and schools was common across the nation.Nevertheless, the viciousness of many in former Confederate states toward Blacks was so extreme that Congress responded to what was called this “reign of terror” by enacting what was known as both the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Civil Right...

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