Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Assassination of Father James Coyle

Father James Edwin Coyle, an Irish immigrant priest, was assissinated in 1921 in Birmingham, Alabama, at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was as rabidly Nativist and anti-Catholic as it was racist.

Coyle had committed the sin of marrying a white woman to a black man (in fact a dark-skinned Hispanic).   The assassin was freed by a temporary insanity defense:  wouldn't having your daughter married to a black man drive anyone crazy.

The incident is particularly notable because then Ku Klux Klan member Hugo Black used his successful defense of assassin E.R. Stephenson, a Methodist preacher, as a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Although Black later regretted his Klan membership,  he never apologized for his anti-Catholicism and his involvement with the Coyle assassination.

Not until 2012 did Alabama Protestants apologize for the acts of Stephenson.