A reference to the federal statute found at 42 U.S.C. § 1983, originally enacted as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (also sometimes called the "Ku Klux Klan Act") to protect freed slaves from white supremacist violence. Today, section 1983 protects all persons from deprivations of civil rights by state and local government officials acting under color of state law. Section 1983 doesn't create any civil rights. It's a way for people to enforce civil rights created by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws.