KKK's Trick or Treat

October 28, 1994

Halloween is coming early to Annapolis this year.

The Ku Klux Klan, those perpetual tricksters, will be dressing in their white sheets and camouflage fatigues for a rally tomorrow at Lawyer's Mall in the shadow of the State House.

The Klan is becoming a tiresome visitor to Anne Arundel County. Klansmen staged a rally in the West River area last October and have reappeared during the past few months handing out leaflets in Laurel, Woodland Beach and other communities. Roger L. Kelly, the Maryland imperial wizard who lives in Frederick, said the rally this weekend is expected to bring 60 to 80 Klansmen, which would be the largest Klan gathering in Annapolis since the 1960s. This time they want to sign up new members and increase support for the Republican Party in Maryland. That's an endorsement GOP candidates made clear they don't want.

But as despicable as these Klan appearances are, there's one good thing about them: they tend to bring folks together, at least for a little while. After the Klan's appearance in Anne Arundel last year, neighbors gathered in a Lothian church for an old-fashioned community hymn sing with choirs from the area's white and black churches.

The anticipation of the gathering already has united unlikely allies. Both Democrat Theodore Sophocleus and Republican John Gary -- rival candidates for Anne Arundel county executive -- turned up at a news conference to condemn the Klan. At the same event, county state's attorney candidates Republican John Greiber and Democrat Frank Weathersbee -- who hardly agree on anything -- each called the Ku Klux Klan evil. During the Klan demonstration tomorrow, civil rights leaders will be holding a multi-cultural march that they hope will bring together a range of community leaders. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Parris Glendening will be there, as will Republican candidate for

lieutenant governor Paul Rappaport.

It doesn't take much courage to criticize the Ku Klux Klan. While it's nice when the politicians and community leaders condemn Klan rallies, how much better it would be if all of these groups could work together to foster better understanding every day. That's not any easy task, but if they could do it the Klan might go trick-or-treating elsewhere.

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