Incident Summary:

4/3/1971: Dr. R. Wiley Brownlee, high school principle and promoter of racial coexistence was struck down and kidnapped by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Ypsilanti, Michigan, United States. Dr. Brownlee was released later in the night but not before he was tarred and feathered.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:


Near Ypsilanti

Location Details:
Lover's Lane road between Plymouth and Ypsilanti Michigan

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Hostage Taking (Kidnapping)
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity Promoter of racial harmony
Specific Description Dr. R. Wiley Brown
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages Yes
Number of Hostages 1
US Hostages 1
Hours of Kidnapping 2
Outcome Hostage(s) released by perpetrators
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Firearms Rifle/Shotgun (non-automatic)
Melee Hands, Feet, Fists
Weapon Details
The shotguns were not fired. The target was struck down either with the shotgun or by fist.
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Additional Information The length of the kidnapping was estimated to be two hours. In response to the attack, Dr. Brownlee jokingly stated that it made him the Blackest man in town. Robert Miles, the leader of Michigan's KKK, and four others were indicted for the attack. Robert Miles was convicted. He was also convicted for incident 197108300002.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Ku Klux Klan No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 5
Number of Captured Perpetrators 5
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 1 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 1
Number of U.S. Injured 1
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
"High School Principal 'Tarred and Feathered,'" Atlanta Daily World, April 4, 1971.
"Arrest Held Stunt," Washington Post, June 24, 1972.
"Klan Leader Convicted," Call and Post, November 17, 1973.