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KKK plans rally at W.Va. national park

September 28, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - The World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has received a permit to stage a rally in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park on Saturday, Oct. 14, a park official and a KKK spokesman said Wednesday.

The topic of the rally will be "Black Crimes in White America," and among the issues that are expected to be discussed was the recent celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Niagara Movement in the park, said Gordon Young, a Washington County resident and imperial wizard of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Niagara Movement was founded in 1905 by a group of black men led by W.E.B. DuBois, J.R. Clifford and others.

The organization's 1906 meeting, the first in the U.S., was held on the campus of Storer College, which is now part of the park.

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The Niagara Movement set the stage for the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

About 10,000 people attended the four-day anniversary celebration in the park.

Young said he was troubled by the focus on black pride during the Niagara Movement celebration because if a group like the KKK held an event and focused on white pride, it would be considered prejudiced.

"They were putting down the white man pretty much," Young said.

In addition to receiving a permit from the park to hold the rally, Young said his organization received a waiver from the town's noise ordinance so speakers may be used.

The rally will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Hamilton Street, which is between the Shenandoah River and the railroad tracks, Young said.

Young said the event has generated interest and he expects people from other organizations like the National Socialist Movement to attend.

This is the third time the KKK has held an event in a national park. The group rallied at Antietam National Battlefield on June 10 and received permission to hold an event at Gettysburg National Military Park on Sept. 2.

Young said his group stages events in national parks because it is easy to get permission to do so.

George Rutherford, president of the Jefferson County chapter of the NAACP, said he is glad the KKK is going through the right channels to have the rally and added that the organization has the right to do it.

"That's the beauty of America. I think they are entitled to it," Rutherford said.

Rutherford said he has no problem with debates over such issues as long as no one resorts to violence.

"I may even go down there and see what they're talking about," Rutherford said.

Park Superintendent Donald Campbell confirmed Wednesday night that the KKK has received a permit to hold the rally.

Campbell said there will be enough personnel on hand to ensure the public's safety, although he did not go into specifics.

Campbell said he believes this is the first time the KKK has received a permit to hold an event in the sprawling park, which is at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Three states - West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland - meet in the area.

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