Founded in the 1920′s as a security force for the Ku Klux Klan, The Black Legion were a white supremacist organisation, prevalent in the Midwest of the United States. By the mid-1930′s, they had accumulated 20,000 to 30,000 members, mainly lower-class Southern Protestant whites. They perpetrated violence predominantly against African Americans, who they felt had stolen their jobs while completely disregarding that they lacked any useful skills for said jobs. They also targeted Catholics, Jews, labor unions, farm cooperatives and fraternal groups.
On 12 May, 1936, the organisation kidnapped Charles A. Poole, a Works Progress Administration organiser. Poole, a French Catholic, had married a Protestant. They shot him dead and it was this murder that eventually led to their downfall. It is believed that they killed up to fifty people in Detroit alone.