Episode 166: Cecil Moses – Greensboro Massacre

Retired agent Cecil Moses served in the FBI for 42 years. He worked as a clerical employee and then investigative specialist for 12 years before receiving an appointment to be a special agent where he developed an expertise in criminal and civil rights matters. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Cecil Moses reviews the Greensboro Massacre, where in November of 1979, during a protest rally, a shootout with the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazis left five members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP) dead and seven members seriously injured. Two klansmen were also injured. At the time of this incident, Cecil Moses was the assistant special agent in charge of the Charlotte Division in North Carolina, managed the FBI investigation, and testified during the subsequent state, federal, and civil trials to bring those accountable for the Greensboro Massacre to justice.

Before there was Charlottesville, there was Greensboro.

During his agent career, he worked in the Cleveland, Omaha, Jackson, and Memphis Divisions, was assigned to the Civil Rights Section of the Criminal Division and the Office of Planning and Evaluation at FBI Headquarters, and served as the Special Agent in Charge of the Birmingham Division. He ended his Bureau career as a member of the Senior Executive Service in the FBI Laboratory. Currently, he operates his farm and business with his son, a recently retired agent.

Special Agent (Retired)

Cecil Moses

7/1957 – 11/1989






“The scariest part was thinking that maybe those crazy Klansmen would come in with a helicopter and start dropping claymore mines on the protesters.”

The following are links to newspaper archives and videos about the Greensboro Massacre and the subsequent trials and memorials to those who dies.Cecil Moses is quoted in many of the archived articles:

Anti-Klan Rally Sparks Call for Probe – 5 Nov 1979

Klan Violence Not B & W – 6 Nov 1979

Klan Violence cont. – 6 Nov 1979

Fourteen Held – 6 Nov 1979

Shootout Under FBI Scrutiny – 7 Nov 1979

Natl Guard Burial – 10 Nov 1979

Decision May Take Months – 26 Jun 1981

Greensboro Massacre 1979 (Short Video Documentary) – 12/7/2014:  In 1979, the Communist Workers Party organized a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina. The results were devastating as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) arrived to the rally armed and killed five marchers. Scandal and confusion quickly ensued as no gunman were sent to prison and the police were accused of colluding with the KKK. Donna, a survivor and eye-witness of the events, recounts her memories in this documentary.

CNN: Surviving a ‘massacre’ – 6/6/2011: Rev. Nelson Johnson, a survivor of the 1979 “Greensboro massacre,” gives an account of his survival.

Unrest Brings Back Memories of NC Massacre -8/20/2017:  The recent unrest in Virginia brought back vivid memories for the Rev. Nelson Johnson, who was injured when Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen attacked a workers’ march in Greensboro, N.C. The November 1979 attack killed five people.

Marker commemorating Greensboro Massacre to be dedicated. The Associated Press May 23, 2015












A memorial marker stands near the site of the Greensboro Massacre to commemorate the five lives lost on 11/3/1979.














ATTORNEY GENERAL’S GUIDELINES ON DOMESTIC SECURITY/TERRORISM INVESTIGATIONS (https://www.justice.gov/archives/ag/attorney-generals-guidelines-general-crimes-racketeering-enterprise-and-domestic#ageneral)

Domestic Security/Terrorism Investigations

This section focuses on investigations of enterprises, other than those involved in international terrorism, whose goals are to achieve political or social change through activities that involve force or violence. Like racketeering enterprise investigations, it is concerned with the investigation of entire enterprise, rather than individual participants and specific criminal acts, and authorize investigations to determine the structure and scope of the enterprise as well as the relationship of the members.

  1. General Authority
  2. A domestic security/terrorism investigation may be initiated when the facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that two or more persons are engaged in an enterprise for the purpose of furthering political or social goals wholly or in part through activities that involve force or violence and a violation of the criminal laws of the United States. The standard of “reasonable indication” is identical to that governing the initiation of a general crimes investigation under Part II. In determining whether an investigation should be conducted, the FBI shall consider all of the circumstances including: (1) the magnitude of the threatened harm; (2) the likelihood it will occur; (3) the immediacy of the threat; and (4) the danger to privacy and free expression posed by an investigation.
  3. Authority to conduct domestic security/terrorism investigations is separate from and in addition to general crimes investigative authority under Part II, racketeering enterprise investigations under Part III A and international terrorism investigations under the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Foreign Intelligence Collection and Foreign Counterintelligence Investigations. Information warranting initiation of an investigation under this section may be obtained through the course of a general series inquiry or investigation, a racketeering enterprise investigation, or an investigation of international terrorism. Conversely, a domestic security/terrorism investigation may yield information warranting a general crimes inquiry or investigation, a racketeering enterprise investigation, or an investigation of international terrorism.
  4. In the absence of any information indicating planned violence by a group or enterprise, mere speculation that force or violence might occur during the course of an otherwise peaceable demonstration is not sufficient grounds for initiation of an investigation under this section. For alternative authorities see Part II relating to General Crimes Investigations and the Attorney General’s Guidelines on “Reporting on Civil Disorders and Demonstrations Involving a Federal Interest.” This does not prelude the collection of information about public demonstrations by enterprises that are under active investigation pursuant to paragraph B 1(a) above.
  5. Purpose

The immediate purpose of a domestic security/terrorism investigation is to obtain information concerning the nature and structure of the enterprise as specifically delineated in paragraph (3) below, with view to the longer range objectives of detection, prevention, and prosecution of the criminal activities of the enterprise.

  1. Scope
  2. A domestic security/terrorism investigation initiated under these guidelines may collect such information as:

(i) the members of the enterprise and other persons likely to be knowingly acting in furtherance of its criminal objectives, provided that the information concerns such persons’ activities on behalf or in furtherance of the enterprise;

(ii) the finances of the enterprise;

(iii) the geographical dimensions of the enterprise; and

(iv) past and future activities and goals of the enterprise.

  1. In obtaining the foregoing information, any lawful investigative techniques may be used in accordance with requirements of Part IV.
  2. Authorization and Renewal
  3. A domestic security/terrorism investigation may be authorized by the Director or designated Assistant Director upon a written recommendation setting forth the facts or circumstances reasonably indicating the existence of an enterprise as described in this subsection. In such cases, the FBI shall notify the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review of the opening of the investigation. In all investigations the Attorney General may, as he deems necessary, request the FBI to provide a report on the status of the investigation.
  4. A domestic security/terrorism investigation may be initially authorized for a period of up to 180 days. An investigation may be continued upon renewed authorization for additional periods each not to exceed 180 days. Renewal authorization shall be obtained from the Director or designated Assistant Director.
  5. Investigations shall be reviewed by the Director or designated Senior Headquarters official on or before the expiration period for which the investigation and each renewal thereof is authorized.
  6. Each investigation should be reviewed at least annually to insure that the threshold standard is satisfied and that continued allocation of investigative resources is warranted. In some cases, the enterprise may meet the threshold standard but be temporarily inactive in the sense that it has not engaged in recent acts of violence, nor is there any immediate threat of harm — yet the composition, goals and prior history of the group suggests the need for continuing federal interest. Under those circumstances, the investigation may be continued but reasonable efforts should be made to limit the coverage to information which might indicate a change in the status or criminal objectives of the enterprise
  7. An investigation which has been terminated may be reopened upon a showing of the same standard and pursuant to the same procedures as required for initiation of an investigation.
  8. The FBI shall report the progress of a domestic security/terrorism investigation to the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review not later than l80 days after the initiation thereof, and the results at the end of each year the investigation continues. The Office of Intelligence Policy and Review shall review the results of each investigation at least annually.
  9. Investigative Techniques
  10. When conducting investigations under these guidelines the FBI may use any lawful investigative technique. Before employing a technique, the FBI should consider whether the information could be obtained in a timely and effective way by less intrusive means. Some of the factors to be considered in judging intrusiveness are adverse consequences to an individual’s privacy interests and avoidable damage to his reputation. Whether a highly intrusive technique should be used depends on the seriousness of the crime and the strength of the information indicating the existence of the crime. It is recognized that choice of technique is a matter of judgment.
  11. All requirements for use of a technique set by statute, Department regulations and policies, and Attorney General Guidelines must be complied with. The investigative techniques listed below are subject to the noted restrictions:
  12. Informants and confidential sources must be used in compliance with the Attorney General’s Guidelines on the Use of Informants and Confidential Sources;
  13. Undercover operations must be conducted in compliance with the Attorney General’s Guidelines on FBI Undercover Operations;
  14. Undisclosed participation in the activities of an organization by an undercover employee or cooperating private individual in a manner that may influence the exercise of rights protected by the First Amendment must be approved by FBIHQ, with notification to Department of Justice;
  15. Nonconsensual electronic surveillance must be conducted pursuant to the warrant procedures and requirements of Title 18 U.S.C. 2510-2521.
  16. Pen registers and trap and trace devices must be installed and used pursuant to the procedure and requirements of Title 18 U.S.C. 3121-3127;
  17. Access to stored wire and electronic communications and transactional records must be obtained pursuant to the procedures and requirements of Title 18 U.S.C. 270l-27l0;
  18. Consensual electronic monitoring must be authorized pursuant to Department policy. For consensual monitoring of conversations other than telephone conversations, advance authorization must be obtained in accordance with established guidelines. This applies both to devices carried by the cooperating participant and to devices installed on premises under the control of the participant. See USAM 9-7.013. For consensual monitoring of telephone conversations, advance authorization must be obtained from the SAC and the appropriate U.S. Attorney, except in exigent circumstances;
  19. Searches and seizures must be conducted under the authority of a valid warrant unless the search or seizure comes within a judicially recognized exception to the warrant requirement. See also, Attorney General’s Guidelines on Methods of Obtaining Documentary Materials Held by Third Parties;
  20. Whenever an individual is known to be represented by counsel in a particular matter, the FBI shall follow applicable law and Department procedure concerning contact with represented individuals in the absence of prior notice to their counsel. The SAC or his designee and the United States Attorney shall consult periodically on applicable law and Department procedure.

Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 250 episodes available for free on all popular podcast apps.

1 Comment

  1. Lisa GunnoeJune 3, 2020

    Mr Moses is such a delight! I love that his son followed in his footsteps and has his badge! Thank you for another great episode!


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