Incident Summary:

12/15/1978: Black preacher, Manuel Whitfield of Columbus, Georgia, was abducted while hitchhiking on Interstate 65 in Cullman, Alabama, in the United States, by three white men in a van, who then dragged Whitfield into the woods and whipped and beat him, and then left him outside, a mile west of the highway. Whitfield survived and was treated for his wounds. The Ku Klux Klan claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that Whitfield had no business being in Alabama and that the beating will teach him to stay out; the motive was that Whitfield had denounced the rape conviction of black man Tommy Lee Hines, for raping a white woman. Earlier this day, Whitfield preached for three hours on the steps of the Cullman County courthouse, at which time he denounced the conviction, and was taunted by whites. Whitfield initially refused to press charges against the perpetrators, but then later agreed to testify before a Federal grand jury.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:



Location Details:
The incident occurred near Interstate 65.

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Type of Attack (more) Hostage Taking (Kidnapping)
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Religious Figures/Institutions
Name of Entity
Specific Description black preacher, Manuel Whitfield
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages Yes
Number of Hostages 1
US Hostages 1
Outcome Hostage(s) released by perpetrators
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Melee Rope or Other Strangling Device
Melee Hands, Feet, Fists
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Ku Klux Klan Yes (Confirmed: Unknown; Mode: Unknown)
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 3
Number of Captured Perpetrators Unknown
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
"Klan Leader Admits Attack On Minister," New York Times, December 21, 1978.
"Rights Groups Agree on Lawyer In Retarded Man's Rape Appeal," New York Times, January 6, 1979.
Wayne King, "Klan Fights Leftists and Nazis at Its Exhibit," New York Times, February 27, 1979.