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Klan's World Knights disbands

leader joins neo-Nazis

November 28, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

SHARPSBURG - The World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which sponsored protests at Civil War sites earlier this year, is disbanding, its founder said Monday.

Imperial Wizard Gordon Young said he plans to become the state leader of the National Socialist Movement. Young, of Sharpsburg, said about 500 of his followers plan to join the neo-Nazi group based in Minneapolis.

About 600 other members are joining other groups, Young said.

Young said the group officially disbanded Sunday because of "a lot of issues," but he denied that the move signals his World Knights have had trouble recruiting or were experiencing problems with other activist groups.

"I'm not going to go into why I'm disbanding because I don't want that ripped and tore up and twisted, because I know how the media is," Young said.

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Participants at rallies organized to counter the Klan's message outnumbered Klan members at events at Antietam National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry (W.Va) National Historical Park this year, The Herald-Mail reported. Young's group also received permission to rally at Gettysburg (Pa.) National Military Park in September.

Last summer, the World Knights called off a rally in Boonsboro.

Tim Bishop, a National Socialist Movement colonel and leader of the group's Stormtroops, said Young's group has been one of the most active Klan groups. He said that Young is a "proven activist."

Bishop declined to say how many people belong to the movement. When asked whether Maryland had any chapters, he said, "There are now."

The Web site for the Anti-Defamation League, which combats anti-Semitism, calls the National Socialist Movement the largest neo-Nazi group in the country.

National Socialist Movement members wear Nazi uniforms and display swastikas, according to the site. The group's membership is mostly young, the Anti-Defamation League says.

With chapters in 32 states, the National Socialist Movement has grown by cooperating with like-minded groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The organization has absorbed members from other groups, according to the site.

By disbanding his group, Young said he hopes to create a more unified movement. He acknowledged that not all of his members have been as active as he had hoped.

"Maryland will be overthrown by the National Socialist Movement, as long as I'm active," Young said.

The World Knights, which formed almost seven years ago, has about 1,100 members, Young said. Only about 50 members live in Maryland, he said.

The World Knights charged a $15 application fee and membership dues were $20 a month, according to the group's Web site.

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