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Klan calls off rally slated for July 9

June 08, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - A Ku Klux Klan chapter has called off a rally planned for Shafer Memorial Park on July 9, Boonsboro Town Manager John Kendall said Tuesday.

It was not known, however, if the local chapter of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan expects to reschedule the rally.

Gordon Young, the World Knights' imperial wizard, did not return three messages Tuesday.

Kendall said Young announced the change in a letter that reached Town Hall on Tuesday. The letter says the rally was postponed and the World Knights would be "back in touch" with the town, according to Kendall.

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Although the World Knights did not need a permit to use the park, the chapter told the town last month that it would hold a rally.

In August 2004, the same chapter received a permit to march along two blocks of Hall Street in Sharpsburg, then gather at Lonnie L. Crampton Memorial Park.

Although Young predicted that about 100 supporters would be there, about 10 showed up.

About 100 police officers watched them and kept order. Spectators weren't allowed into the park afterwards, so a rally there was canceled.

Young, who lives in Hagerstown, has said he would recruit members of other white supremacy groups to be at this year's rally, which is what he said before last year's rally.

At the same time, local churches have been thinking of peaceful activities to hold at the same time as next month's rally - also like last year.

A service for "worship and reflection" was planned for June 16 at Mount Nebo United Methodist Church in Boonsboro, the Rev. Robert G. Brennan Jr. said.

He said the event was to include a brainstorming session for activities to interest the public instead of the rally.

The Rev. Malcolm Stranathan of Salem United Methodist Church in Keedysville said a flag football game at Boonsboro High School was an early idea. It would pit current varsity and junior varsity players against "vintage" players, meaning those who have graduated, he said.

Stranathan said there was a snag because high school football teams can't practice or play together before Aug. 15. The flag football game might happen in the fall, regardless of whether the Klan has a rally, he said.

Stranathan helped organize a tolerance group that planned and held peaceful events in Sharpsburg and Keedysville opposite last year's Klan march. Many more people participated in those events than the march.

On Monday, the Boonsboro Town Council passed an emergency ordinance banning guns in public places, which would have applied to the Klan rally. The timing of the ordinance - two weeks after the rally was announced - was "strictly coincidental," Kendall said before Monday's meeting.

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