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July 03, 1996 - Image 16

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1996-07-03

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S16 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, July 3, 1996

-~1

Protesters march against
KKK demonstration

By Erena Baybik
Daily Staff Reporter
What began as a calm demonstration against the
*Ku Klux Klan on June 22 ended in chaos, with
eight arrests, shattered windows and canisters of
tear gas exploding in the streets.
Hundreds of Ann Arbor residents appeared at
the city's Guy C. Larcom, Jr. Municipal Building
on that Saturday afternoon to demonstrate their
discontent for the historically racist organization.
Two hundred seventy-seven University, local,
county and state police officers lined the streets
surrounding the city hall building as the anti-KKK
protesters arrived, marching up East Huron street
chanting: "No free speech for KKK -- let's shut
them down, let's do it today."
Although the rally began with few problems,
a. Carl Ent, chief of the Ann Arbor Police
Department, said the demonstrators began hurling
bottles and bricks at both the Klansmen and the
police. One of the Klan members, the wife of the
National Imperial Wizard, Jeff Berry, received a
minor head injury when she was hit by a rock
thrown by one of the demonstrators.
Ent said at that point, the police were instructed
to use mace, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse
the crowd.
"Our mission was to ensure public safety, main-
tain public order and protect the First Amendment
rights for all the people that were present," Ent
said in a press conference following the rally. "I
feel very comfortable with the expertise and plan
that was used. I feel very comfortable that we are
doing everything we could to prepare for this"
The 15 Klan members arrived in unmarked
police vans and spoke from the second-level bal-
cony of the city hall building, separated from the
crowd by police and fencing that displayed signs
saying that anyone who touched the fence would
be maced.
One of the main goals of Ann Arbor Organizing
Against the Klan (AAOAK), a union of several
organizations, was to disrupt the Klan rally and
prevent the Klan members from being heard.
"We hope to shut them down and we're prepared
to do whatever means we have available," said Jodi
Masley, an RC senior and protest organizer. "In
terms of violence, the Klan are the perpetrators of
it - we believe in self-defense, we have to come

out and defend ourselves."
While some protesters said they felt the KKK
had no right to speak because of what they advo-
cated, others said they believed that everyone has
a right to be heard.
"Demonstration is important - the KKK has
every right to voice their opinions, but we don't
have to stand for it," said Keshia Thomas, a recent
Huron High School graduate who has been the
focus of national attention after she shielded a man
wearing a shirt bearing the Confederate flag from
the blows of other protesters. "If I hit someone, it
won't change their view - you must use your
head and your voice."
Several protesters showed concern for the
amount of tax money spent to ensure safety.
"They're welcome to speak, but to spend so much
money to have them protected like this is wrong,"
said recent University graduate Percy Herrero.
Confusion and chaos broke out once the police
began to tear gas and mace the crowd.
"They're tear-gassing the hell out of them and
it's just considered crowd control," said Julie
Lubeck, a University graduate.
"For Ann Arbor, this is the most violent the police
have ever been, said Lisa Schlicker, a member of
the Detroit branch of the Free Mumia Coalition.
"They were harassing people excessively."
The protesters retreated to Main St., but along
the way, two protesters hurled rocks at the
Washtenaw County Courthouse, smashing three
windows and one glass door. Protesters also
hollered at patrons eating outside at the One-Eyed
Moose restaurant, angrily demanding that they
"get off their ass."
Aleksas Lahti, an Ann Arbor resident and an on-
looker at the rally, criticized the crowd. "They're
just about as big of jerks as the Klan is," Lahti said.
"What kind of good are they going to do?"
One protester was rushed to the hospital for a
broken leg. Thirty officers were treated for exposure
to chemical irritants, but none were seriousy hurt.
In total, security costs for the rally cost the city
$55,788. Police enforcement alone cost $37,240.
Ent said that in his opinion, the officers showed
a lot of restraint. "Any actions done were in
response to the crowd," lie said.
-Dai/v New s Editor Katie Wang contributed to
this report.

Ann Arbor resident Keshia Thomas tries to shield the body of Albert McKeel Jr. from the angry blows cW
her fellow anti-KKK protestors on June 22. McKee) was wearing a shirt bearing the Confederate flag.

KKK speaks out about protesters, views

By Nathan Huebner
Dtaily Staff Reporter
Many people have claimed that the
Ku Klux Klan provoked the violence
and rioting that occurred at the rally on
June 22, and that they should not have
been there. The KKK members, on the
other hand, say that they were only exer-
cising their First Amendment rights.
In an interview with The Michigan
Daily, the National Imperial Wizard Jeff
Berry of Butler, Ind., claimed that the
protesters at the rally behaved improp-
erly and were out of line. "Animal
behavior - that's what it was," he said.
"We're a peaceful organization. We
just wanted to express our First
Amendment rights,' he said.
Fifteen "knights" from the Klan
spoke from atop the Municipal

Building roof to a crowd of several hun-
dred protesters. Their message, howev-
er, could barely be heard through the
noise of the chanting crowd.
"We want to make people see what
the government is doing to us with
affirmative action and gun control,"
Berry said. "They're trying totake away
our rights."
Almost 300 local police officers were
employed at the rally to keep the crowd
under control .
The rally got violent, however, when
protesters against the KKK began
throwing rocks and sticks as the Klan
members were leaving. One of the Klan
members, Berry's wife, suffered a
minor injury when she was hit in the
head with a rock.
Although many of the protesters have

blamed the police
response to the
crowd for the vio-
lent situation
Berry said he 'a
believes they were
not responsible.
Of Keshia
Thomas, the
Ypsilanti resident
who shielded a JONATHAN LURiE/Daily
man wearing a Ann Arbor resident Keshia Thomas falls to the ground on June 22 as police officers take away another
shirt bearing the anti-KKK protestor.
Confederate flag
from attacking protesters, Berry said, Berry defined Klan thoughts about Berry also said that the Klan woo d
"God bless her. She did the right thing" people of color and of Jewish return to Ann Arbor some time next }
Berry expressed anger over the pub- descent: "We're against them. We're to hold another rally. "I think the people
lic attitude toward the KKK. "People against interracial marriages. We go in Ann Arbor need to keep the gangs and
call us a hate group but we didn't show by the Bible and it says to marry in riffraff away from our next rally," Berry
no hate at the rally," he said. your own tribe." said.

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