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September 03, 1996 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-03

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12A - The Michigan Daily - September 3, 1996

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Ann Arbor resident Keshla Thomas falls to the ground at the Ku Klux Klan rally on June 22 as police officers take away
Michael Helms, another anti-KKK protester.
KKK rally will have
lasting impressions
By Katie Wang One protester was rushed to the hospital for a broken leg.
Daily Staff Reporter Thirty officers were treated for exposure to chemical irritants,
On June 22, Ann Arbor, a quaint little college town known but none was seriously hurt.
for its liberal atmosphere, was transformed into a chaotic war In total, security costs for the rally cost the city $558.
zone as anti-Ku Klux Klan protesters clashed with members
of the Ann Arbor Police Department at a Ku Klux Klan rally. COURT
The city had been warned weeks in advance that the Ku
Klux Klan would be coming to speak. Members of the Nation- Although eight people were arrested, charges against two o
al Women's Rights Organizing Coalition spent days on the those arrested have been dropped. Five of the remaining s:,
corner of State Street and North University Avenue, distrib- arrested have been ordered to stand trial for felonious assault
uting fliers urging people to "Smash the KKK" at its sched- against police officers. Each felonious assault charge is pun-
uled appearance at City Hall that Saturday. ishable by a $2,000 fine and up to four years in prison.
More than 200 Ann Arbor residents and University students Members of NWROC and AAOAK have remained consis-
appeared at the Guy C. Larcom Jr. Municipal Building that tent in their demands that the charges against those arrested be
afternoon. dropped. They have also accused the AAPD of misconduct at
Some came to protest. Others came to listen. the rally.
Whatever the case, they were caught in a chaotic melee The jury trials for anti-KKK protesters Jeffrey Anderson,
between the police and angry anti-Klan protesters. When the Russell Stewart and Michael Helms are scheduled to be
demonstration simmered down, the tally came to eight arrests, August 29.
three smashed windows and about eight people hospitalized. Attorneys for each defendant entered "not guilty" pleas for
their clients at their preliminary exam on July 17.
The rally began as a peaceful one, but anger and emotion
fused with afternoon heat, erupting in Almost two months have passed since
violence. Many of those who attended that emotional Saturday afternoon and
came because of the organization of p the city is still recuperating from the rally.
NWROC and Ann Arbor Organizing Ve re a peacefu Last month, about 100 city residents
Against the Klan. Their loud, angry organiza Eti n. W under the leadership of the Wom
chants drowned out the speech of International League for Peace and Fr
National Imperial Wizard Jeff Berry, ust wanted to dom, returned to the Larcom Municipal
who stood on the City Hall balcony Building balcony for another rally. This
along with 14 other Klan members. The express our First time, instead of a violent confrontation,
15 Klan members were from Indiana the rally ended with hugs and hand-hold-
and had been escorted to the building in Amendment ing in an effort to heal the remaining
unmarked police vans. emotional wounds from June's protest.
"We hope to shut them down and rigts" "I really believe that everyone who
we're prepared to do (so by) whatever came there, regardless of their differen
means we have available," said Jodi - Jeff Berry beliefs, believed injustice and wanted t.
Masley, RC senior and NWROC mem- National imperial wizard end hate and bigotry," said Elise Bryant.
ber. "In terms of violence, the Klan one of the facilitators of the "heal
(members) are the perpetrators of it - rally.:
we believe in self-defense, we have to In retrospect, Ann Arbor Mayor ingnd
come out and defend ourselves." Sheldon said that allowing the Klan to speak from the balcony
The protesters taunted and hissed at police officers stand- of City Hall may have been a decision that should have
ing behind the wire fence that surrounded the Larcom Build- received more consideration.
ing. A sign on the fence warned protesters that they would be "We did not realize the psychological impact of putting the
sprayed with tear gas if they touched the fence. KKK on the deck of City Hall," Sheldon said. "Although t
More officers lined Ann and Huron streets wearing pro- been used in the past (as a podium), we probably need to c
tective gear and armed with canisters of tear gas in prepara- evaluate that part of the process."
tion for any outbreaks of violence. City leaders may have to re-evaluate soon, because in
In total, about 277 local, county and state police officers interview with The Michigan Daily, Berry said the Kla w
had been dispatched that day, costing the city $37,240. return to Ann Arbor sometime next year to hold another rlly.
Violence first erupted when protesters chased Albert McK- "I think the people in Ann Arbor need to keep the gangs and
eel Jr., who was wearing a shirt bearing the Confederate flag. riff-raff away from our next rally," Berry said.
As many of the angry anti-Klan protest- Berry described the behavior of the
ers tried to beat and injure McKeel, An protesters as "animal behavior," and said
Arbor residept Keshia Thomas emerged they behaved improperly.
from the crowd and shielded McKeel "We're a peaceful organization. We just
from the angry blows of the protesters. wanted to express our First Amendment
"Demonstration is important- the rights" he said.
KKK has every right to voice their opin- x Councilmember Tobi Hanna-Davic
ions, but we don't have to stand for it," (D-st Ward) said, should the Klane
Thomas said. "If I hit someone, it won't next year, she would like to see '
change their view - you must use your parties thatsparticipated in this year'slly
head and your voice." behave differently.
Thomas, a recent graduate of Huron "I'd love to see the media handle it dif-
High School, has been in the national ferently, because essentially they held it up
spotlight for her actions. for days and days before the rally," she
Tear gas, mace and pepper spray were said.
used on the crowd when protesters ; Davies said a srica of workshop ?
allegedly began throwing rocks, bricks focusing on non-violent training ar,
and bottles at police and Klansmen1 scheduled for October.
One of the Klan members, the wife of "I think we need non-violence train
the National Imperial Wizard, received a so that people who would like to protes
minor head injury when she was hit by a the Klan in the future (can) make it an
rock thrown by the protesters. active, effective, but non-violent protest
"They're tear-gassing the hell out of Ann Arbor resident Kesa TH ai
them and it'sjust considered crowd con- Davies said it bothers her when people
trol" said Julie Lubeck, a University from the blows of antKKK cprotesters. draw parallels between the behavior of
graduate._- the Klan and the anti-Klan protesters.
"Our mission was to ensure public "The Klan advocates genocide and acts

safety, maintain public order and protect First Amendment on it" she said. "I do not condone the counter-protesters who
rights for all the people that were present' said Carl Ent, chief used violence, but I would love to see them adopt non-violent
ofthe Ann Arbor Police Department. "I feel very comfortable ways of putting out energy."
with the expertise and plan that was used." Bryant said she is not concemed about the Klan's poss
Many of the protesters retreated to Main Street, but along return.
the way, two protesters hurled rocks at the Washtenaw Coun- "They are a symptom of a larger disease," she said. "The
ty Courthouse, smashing three windows and one glass door. people who are drawn to the KKK reflect the culture that sup
Protesters also hollered at patrons eating outside at the One- ports racial superiority.
Eyed Moose restaurant on Main Street, angrily demanding "We shall overcome hatred and bigotry - not with vic
that they "get off their ass." lence - but with careful and well-thought action and peace-
Aleksas Lahti, an Ann Arbor resident and an onlooker at the ful discourse," Bryant said.
rally, criticized the crowd. "They're just as big of jerks as the -Daily StaffReporters Erena Baybik and Nathan Huebner
Klan is," Lahti said. "Whatkind of good are they going to do?" contributed to this report.



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