"We will fight political Romanism, Judaism, communism, and all isms'which our forefathers came to this country to avoid." This excerpt taken from a promotional piece sponsoring the legion, most accurately depicts the beliefs and practices of this once shadowy organization. The legion began as a security force force for the officers of the Ohio Ku Klux Klan in the mid '20s. Under the direction of Highland Park Michigan resident Arthur Lupp, the legion was organized in 1931 much like the millitary with it's members seperated into brigades, regiments, batallions and companies.
At it's height legionaires boasted that their numbers exceeded 1,000,000 members but researchers place the actual figures in the neighborhood of 25,000 with a third of those living within the city of Detroit. The Legion targeted blacks, Jews and Catholics with a message of hate but also considered welfare workers and recipients as well as union organizers of all races, colors and creeds to be an enemy. With Arthur Lupp serving as major general, the legion used it's 5 brigades, 16 regiments, 64 batallions and 256 companies to establish a reputation for violence that according to some published news accounts of their activities "made the Ku Klux Klan look like cream puffs." Made up of legitimate businessmen, politicians and common criminals who used the legion as a way to use their love of mayhem to carryout acts of violence against those deemed undesirables during legion meetings.
The Legion used several legitimate fronts as club houses and meeting places including the Wayne County Rifle and Pistol Club, a downtown Detroit sporting goods club and the Wolverine Republican Club. The murder of Charles Poole in May of 1936 by one of the many legion companies brought fourth the end of the Black Legion when 12 high ranking members were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the heartless killing.