The Black Legion, also known as the “Wolverine Republican League,” was a radical branch of the Michigan Ku Klux Klan. Its members were pro-white, native-born Protestants who were against Jews, Blacks, Communists, Anarchists, and Catholics. At one point, there were an estimated 200,000 members in Michigan, organized and led by “Colonel” Harvey Davis. Among their goals were to take over the government by introducing typhoid germs into milk and to kill Mayor William Voisine of Ecorse. The shooting death of a black man named Silas Coleman in May 1935 was attributed to the Black Legion.
In May 1936, the murder of Charles “Chap” Poole, on Detroit’s west side, led to the trial, conviction, and dismissal of four Highland Park policemen, three firemen, and a city councilman for behavior against city codes. Petitions for retrial were made all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court, which upheld the guilty decisions of the lower courts. (For further information see Detroit murders, by Patricia Bronte [and others] by Alvin C. Hamer.)