Klan walks police-lined Elkton route Court ordered permit over town's objection

September 27, 1992|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Staff Writer

ELKTON -- Barbara Foster fretted at the door of the wedding chapel she owns in Elkton yesterday, down a Main Street cordoned off for a march by the Ku Klux Klan.

"I hope I can get this wedding out of here before they come," she said. "I have another one in a half-hour. It's a black wedding."

In the parking lot behind the district courthouse up the street, more than 50 uniformed law enforcement personnel awaited the Klansmen who had been denied permission to march through Elkton by local authorities, but granted it by U.S. District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg earlier this month.

"I wish that judge was here right now," Elkton Mayor James G. Crouse said as he surveyed the scene. "This isn't what the First Amendment is about."

Some 40 minutes after their scheduled 1 p.m. starting time, a horn-honking caravan of about a dozen cars full of Klan members arrived, the pointed top of one masked headpiece sticking out above a Corvette's sunroof.

Surrounded by a gaggle of reporters, the 50 marchers assembled, Grand Klaliff Chester Doles taking charge.

"Line up in rows of four," he yelled. "Let's show them what white people can do!"

"Like count to four," one bystander commented.

After a metal-detector search by local police, the dozen white-robed Klansmen led off the parade, followed by 25 marchers dressed in fatigues, a few in Nazi uniforms carrying a swastika flag, and a half-dozen young men who called themselves the Atlantic City Skinheads. About 10 of the group were women.

Though Mr. Doles had said the reason for the march was to protest an open-air drug market in Elkton, the cries and chants throughout the 15-minute demonstration were only for white power.

Of the 400 spectators on Main Street, about 50 joined the march in sympathy, while a like number protested it with signs and screamed epithets. Most seemed simply curious. An occasional can flew out from the back of the crowd.

The noise and tension were high until the police herded the marchers back to their cars and escorted them out of town, a dozen black people running beside the cars, yelling at them until they picked up speed.

In a brief press conference, Mayor Crouse said there had been 140 police officers among the crowd, half in plainclothes, and he was glad there were no injuries or arrests. Still, he said he thought he had made the right decision in opposing the march.

"Otherwise, people might think we welcome things like this in Elkton, and we don't," he said.

In front of the chapel on Main Street, members of that next wedding party were waiting for the groom.

Thirty-year-old Henry Hollingsworth did finally make it through the traffic and barricades and was married to his 25-year-old bride, Carla Hamilton. Half of Mr. Hollingsworth's groomsmen were black; half were white.

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