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Deacons for Defense and Justice

The Deacons for Defense and Justice was the name of a secretive vigilante group that formed in Jonesboro, Louisiana on July 10, 1964 to protect civil rights workers against the violence of the Ku Klux Klan. The Deacons were African-Americans and most of them were war veterans with combat experience from the Korean War and World War II. Because of their willingness to respond to violence with violence, there was frequent tension between the Deacons and the nonviolent civil rights workers whom they sought to protect, most notably the volunteers working with the Congress of Racial Equality. Moreover, the tactics of the Deacons attracted the attention and concern of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which ordered an investigation of the group. However, with the advent of the unabashedly militant Black Power Movement, the involvement of the Deacons in the civil rights movement declined, with the presence of the Deacons all but vanishing by 1968.