Attorney: No guns allowed near rally

July 13, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

Sharpsburg Town Attorney Charles Wagaman warned people Monday night not to bring guns within 1,000 feet of the Ku Klux Klan rally in August.

People have asked him if firearms can be carried unconcealed at the Aug. 28 rally, Wagaman said at the monthly meeting of the mayor and Town Council.

The answer is no, Wagaman said. It doesn't matter if the firearm is concealed or not, loaded or not, the answer is the same, he said.


Bringing a firearm within 1,000 feet of the demonstration would violate state law and be a misdemeanor, Wagaman said.

Demonstrators and nondemonstrators should consider themselves warned, he said. Leave firearms indoors, he said.

"I have told all my men, 'Leave your guns home,'" said Gordon Young, imperial wizard for the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

As Young spoke up at the meeting, a man in the back of the council room called him a name.

The exception to the firearms law is on-duty police officers, Wagaman said. The Washington County Sheriff's Department will be enforcing the law.

The World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan plan to march and rally on Saturday, Aug. 28. The parade will be on South Hall Street, from Main Street to High Street. The rally will be held afterward at Lonnie L. Crampton Memorial Park.

Wagaman said he expected to issue an official letter to the Klan today so it can move forward with plans for the parade and rally.

"Hope this can all go smoothly and people will be calm, cool and collected," Wagaman said.

Paul Breitenbach said the closure of South Hall Street would affect his business because access to the Rohrbach Inn is off that street.

Wagaman said he expected that block to be closed only for the parade, from 1 to 2 p.m. He said he expects the other block to be closed for the parade and rally, which is to end around 4:30 p.m.

Breitenbach asked town officials how a situation could arise where a group from outside town could come in and cause a disruption.

Wagaman said the First Amendment gives that group and others the right to have a parade and rally.

While Young lives in Hagerstown, he said he has a post office box in Sharpsburg, has lived there and has said the group is based in Sharpsburg.

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