County political leaders blast Ku Klux Klan rally

October 21, 1994|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

More than a dozen Anne Arundel politicians and civic leaders of both parties gathered at an Annapolis church yesterday to denounce a planned Ku Klux Klan rally.

"I wonder if the members of the Ku Klux Klan are God-fearing, because if they are, they're in for a terrible day of reckoning," Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins said. "I'm sorry the Constitution allows that [the demonstration] because I would not welcome them to this town."

The Maryland Forum of African-American Leaders scheduled a news conference to protest the Klan's scheduled Oct. 29 rally at Lawyers Square near State Circle.

The demonstration is set to occur just days before voters go to the polls, and will take place in the shadow of the State House and the Governor's Mansion.

Roger L. Kelly, Maryland imperial wizard, has said he hopes the rally generates not only new memberships in the KKK, but also more support for the Republican Party in Maryland. Yesterday, local GOP candidates fiercely rejected that endorsement.

"I know of no one within our party that would embrace any of the philosophy of the KKK and anything they represent," said John Gary, the Republican county executive candidate.

One Republican even suggested curbing the group's constitutional right to free speech.

"If it takes an amendment to the Constitution to prevent disruptive and discriminatory speech, then I believe that should be done," said John R. Greiber, the Republican running for state's attorney.

Meanwhile, some civil rights activists said government needs to do more to quell racism in Anne Arundel County.

"We urge the politicians here today to become true leaders in a war against racism and bigotry," said Lewis Bracy, a spokesman for the Maryland Forum of African-American Leaders. "We ask them to be proactive, not reactive."

One city council member was critical of government's response to racial tensions and discrimination in the state.

"I don't think Republicans and Democrats have spoke out enough on social justice issues in the state and county," said Ward 5 Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Democrat.

At 1 p.m., the same time as the Klan rally next weekend, protesters plan to march up Main Street and then hold a peace rally at First Baptist Church, 31 W. Washington St.

Organizers of the anti-Klan march and rally are urging participants to stay away from Klan members and express their opinions nonviolently.

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