The Ku Klux Klan will make a swing through Mount Airy as part of an 11-town, three-month membership drive that is expected to culminate with an Ocean City rally on July 4.
"We want to let the folks in Mount Airy know what the Klan is all about, that we are against drug abuse, child molestation, rapists and all of that stuff," said Dale Reeves, an officer with the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. "We just want to let people see what we're against and what we condone."
What the white supremacist group condones, however, is far more than a world free of child abuse, drug addiction and rape, says a former vice president for the Carroll County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"They are parasitesand leeches," said William Hudson Jr. "When times are poor, they change their message. But what they're really saying is that if they arenot rising, black people certainly aren't going to rise."
During its appearance along Main Street in Mount Airy, the Klan will be distributing membership kits to passersby. Members will be dressed in their traditional robes and hoods, although some -- including Reeves -- will be wearing combat fatigues.
After the membership drive, the group plans to hold a rally on a private farm, where it will conduct across burning. Members have not set a date for their Mount Airy appearance.
As long as members distribute their leaflets on the sidewalk and stay out of the roadway, they will probably not need approval from the town. However, should any of those leaflets ask for contributions, the group would need to obtain a permit, said R. Delaine Hobbes Jr., Town Council president.
And denying permits -- especially for public rallies or marches -- is how towns often try to bar the KKK.
Elkton, the Cecil County town of about 8,000 people, last month barred the group from marching, citing safety concerns. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a suit on the KKK's behalf in federalcourt. The suit, which says the Klan's constitutional rights have been violated by the town, will be heard May 7.
"You can't cater to one group and then throw another kind out," Reeves said. "You know that if the NAACP requested a permit, they would be granted one. We're entitled to our constitutional rights just like anybody else."
Mount Airy officials hadn't been notified of the Klan's intentions last week, and they won't know whether a permit will be necessary until they get more details, but Hobbes said he wished the group would just go away.
"I'd really rather the town keep out of it," he said. "Everybody should just keep their hats on, go about their business and not make a fuss about it. The bigger the fuss, the worse it usually gets.
"The more you stir it, the more it stinks."
No plans were inthe works to stage a counter-demonstration while the Klan is in town. When the group rallied in Manchester about four years ago, then-Mayor Elmer C. Lippy headed a group of clergy, civil rights activists and town residents that sponsored a prayer service.
But on Wednesday, the Carroll County Community Relations Commission will have a forumat the Westminster Church of the Brethren to discuss the rise in Klan activities in and around the county.
The Klan last appeared in Manchester two weeks ago for a rally at the farm of a member. Several days later, a burned cross was found on the property of a black family's home in Hampstead.
Police are investigating to see whether theincidents are related.
The KKK's "spring tour" in Maryland includes North East, Chesapeake City, Rising Sun, Chestertown, Bel Air, Denton, Cecilton, Havre de Grace, Centreville, Mount Airy and the Independence Day rally in Ocean City.