In a small town in the South, Sheriff Track Bascomb breaks up a crowd of black and white men molesting a black woman. He visits Breck Stancill, a local land owner who is politically liberal.
White woman Nancy Poteet is sexually assaulted and beaten by a black man. Sheriff Track Bascomb tries to find the guilty party while Ku Klux Klan members – including Bascomb's deputy, Butt Cutt Cates – take matters into their own hands.
Members of the Klan – not wearing their uniform – approach a bar frequented by blacks. They chase after two men, one of whom is Garth. Garth escapes but his associate is captured, castrated and shot by the Klan.
Loretta Sykes, a black woman who grew up in the town, returns home. She is approached by members of the civil rights movement. They try to get Breck Stancill involved.
Nancy Poteet's husband leaves her and she finds herself an outcast in the town. She is befriended by Stancill.
Garth dresses up as a Klansman and kills one of the vigilante gang who killed his friend. At a funeral for the dead man, held by the Klan, Garth shoots another Klansman from a tree.
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