In leaflets, Klan warns of rally in Annapolis

November 08, 1994|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

Members of the Ku Klux Klan have dropped hundreds of leaflets in Annapolis, most of them in black neighborhoods, threatening to be back in town this weekend and suggesting they're ready for a more violent confrontation.

Police say a resident reported seeing dozens of leaflets being dropped from a moving, white Oldsmobile Cutlass about 2 a.m. Saturday on Copeland Street near Bywater Road, a mostly black neighborhood.

Leaflets were also found near the Banneker-Douglass black history museum on Franklin Street and at a corner near the home of Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a civil rights activist, city police said.

The leaflets also were dropped near the old Wiley H. Bates High School, once the only high school for blacks in Annapolis, in front of Kneseth Israel Synagogue at Spa Road and Hilltop Lane and near the home of Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins in the Eastport section of town.

Police said 300 leaflets were distributed.

Police investigators said there was no evidence these areas or individuals were being targeted or threatened, but Mr. Snowden disputed that.

The mere act of leafleting by the Klan could set off a violent chain reaction in some black communities, he warned.

"What is happening is the Klan is putting out these inflammatory materials, and they're dealing with fire," he said. "A number of young people would welcome the Klan's arrival in their neighborhoods. And quite frankly, if they were to go into these communities looking for trouble, they would find it. There would be bloodshed."

The white pamphlet depicts a person in a hood and robe pointing at the reader, with a series of racial epithets handwritten in one corner. The pamphlet read: "C'mon down to Lawyers Mall Nov. 13 at 9:00 p.m. Ya'll Come back now, ya' hear!"

The fliers referred to an Oct. 29 rally when about 800 blacks and whites marched in opposition to a rally of about 35 Klan members at Lawyer's Mall in front of the Statehouse.

The KKK has not requested another permit to rally, according to police, who say it is not unusual for the Klan to leaflet and threaten as a way to get publicity.

"The Klan was greatly outnumbered by protesters at the last rally in Annapolis and that's what brings about this retaliatory flier," said Lt. Gregory M. Shipley, a state police spokesman, "We've seen these types of retaliatory challenges in the past, and we haven't had violence."

He said authorities are not sure whether the Klan is coming or whether "this is a ploy on their part to raise the ire of the people they singled out in the leaflet."

Nonetheless, state police are investigating the threat and will send troopers to Lawyers Mall on Sunday, he said. City police also are preparing for a rally.

"Because of what's happened in the last couple of weeks, we TC know how to deploy ourselves," said Officer Shelley White, an Annapolis police spokesman. About 120 state, county and city police were on patrol at the last rally, where they made only one arrest for disorderly conduct.

The pamphlet touting the Sunday night rally lists a return address at a post office box in Mayo rented by Gene Newport, who lives in the Parole section of Annapolis.

Mr. Newport said he was not involved in the leafleting campaign, but that the Klan simply was trying to exercise its First Amendment rights of free speech.

"We're a law-abiding organization," he said. "The Invincible Empire has the record of Boy Scouts."

Ralph Gibson, 74, whose lives a few blocks away from Mr. Newport, said he looked out his window Saturday morning to find the street covered with pamphlets.

"I thought it was crazy," said Mr. Gibson, one of the first black Annapolis police officers. "They had a big nerve coming in here to this neighborhood and spreading that trash. It makes me sad."

Klan imperial wizard Roger Kelly said the second rally is a response to last week's demonstration, which he called a "cluster mess" and a "total fiasco." Mr. Kelly said state police ushered the Klansmen out of town before they were ready and did not stop counter-demonstrators from throwing eggs at them.

He said a more radical faction of the Klan generated the leaflets and that he expected 20 to 30 members of that group to show up for another demonstration Sunday night. The Klan will demonstrate, on its own terms, he said, without trying to cooperate with police.

"The police made us leave and that's why we've cut off all contacts," Mr. Kelly said. "We have a right to protect ourselves. I don't think we'll need the state police."

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