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Klan fliers distributed

April 13, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Hagerstown resident AnnaMarie McDonagh was visiting relatives on Oak Hill Avenue on Easter Sunday when a rolled-up flier arrived on the front porch around dinnertime.

McDonagh said she and her family were "alarmed" over its contents: A group calling itself the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, with headquarters in Sharpsburg, was looking for members.

"To me, that is an invasion of privacy," McDonagh said Monday. "For it to be handed out in a family-oriented neighborhood is alarming to me."

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McDonagh, who has worked as a trauma technician at Washington County Hospital, said seeing the flier was more startling than anything she has seen on the job.

"With being trained and being around alarming things, this would bother me the most because it teaches hate," she said.

The flier, titled "An Open Letter to the Citizens of Maryland from the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan," asks residents to take a stand on eight issues supported by the KKK. The flier is scattered with grammatical errors and states the KKK group promotes quarantining people with AIDS; a declaration stating America is a Christian nation; equal rights for whites; drug testing for welfare recipients; the right to own guns; putting troops on the borders to keep out illegal aliens; the elimination of affirmative action; and putting America before foreign workers and foreign industry.

"It's a quiet neighborhood, which is really a surprise that that sort of thing is still going on," Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner said. "It's very disappointing."

Breichner, who lives on Oak Hill Avenue, said he didn't receive a flier, but his neighbors did.

Sharpsburg Mayor Hal Spielman and Town Clerk Anna Jamison said they had not heard of the group, nor did they know it had a Sharpsburg post office box.

"That's news to me. Oh, my heavens," Jamison said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm totally against it."

Spielman said he had never heard of the Rev. Gordon Young, the name listed as the organization's imperial wizard.

Tri-State area phone books did not list a telephone number or address for a Gordon Young.

Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades and Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said Monday that their departments hadn't received calls from residents about the fliers.

Both said Young's name didn't ring a bell and that they weren't familiar with the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Mades said the KKK has been quiet in the county for a while.

"I'm just surprised that that surfaced again," Mades said. "We don't have any report of anything for years around here."

He said Klan members handed out fliers on a street corner in Boonsboro a couple of years ago.

Washington County Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said the KKK's presence in the county was unfortunate, but its members have the right to assemble.

"And I have a right to disagree with their beliefs," Wivell said.

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