Klan members planning more local activity

September 10, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

On the heels of a Ku Klux Klan march two weeks ago in Sharpsburg that drew as many police as bystanders, Klan members are planning more local activity, the leader of an interstate Klan organization based in Sharpsburg said Thursday.

Klan members today will drop off literature and applications to join the Klan in Sharpsburg, said Gordan Young, imperial wizard of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Young said he has been discussing with other groups plans to hold another rally in Maryland before the end of the year, either in Allegany County or in Washington County.


"We're hoping it goes a lot better than last time, as far as speaking to the public and how (police) quarantined everybody off. ... There'd be more people with us," Young said.

Joseph Bednarsky Jr., a member of the New Jersey White Nationalists Forum who marched with Young on Aug. 28, said any plans would "probably be in that (Sharpsburg) area."

Young and Bednarsky said their rights to free speech were infringed upon when police cordoned off an area to contain the crowd to a small portion of the parade route.

Nine Ku Klux Klan members and associates, two dressed in white robes and hoods, marched down two blocks in Sharpsburg, and because there was no crowd to which to speak, the planned rally was called off.

Young said the police action amounted to "discriminating against the white race."

Police said there were no arrests associated with the march.

The Klan march spurred local groups to form protest events at Antietam National Battlefield, just outside Sharpsburg, and in Keedysville.

Sharpsburg Mayor Hal Spielman and Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades did not return phone calls seeking comment on Thursday.

Young said his organization has operatives in 15 states, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. In Maryland, he said his organization claims between 100 and 200 members, but he declined to say specifically how many there are.

Young's group is one of about 158 separate Klan organizations, according the Web site of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala.-based group that monitors hate groups.

According to the SPLC, the Klan is historically linked with racially fueled violence targeting blacks, Jews, immigrants and homosexuals.

Young said his group no longer promotes violence.

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