CLEVELAND (AP) -- A federal judge ruled today that a Ku Klux Klan
rally may go ahead as planned, rejecting a police union's lawsuit
complaining that the event would stretch law enforcement too
The rally is set for Saturday, on the same day a Black Family
Expo a few blocks away is expected to draw 20,000 people, and a few
hours before the Cleveland Browns play for the first time in their
U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan agreed with the city's
black mayor, Michael R. White, who says that even though he
despises the Klan the city is legally obligated to let the white
supremacist group speak.
In throwing out the suit by the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's
Association, the judge said that even forcing the Klan to
reschedule the rally would violate the group's civil rights.
The judge also upheld the city's plan to protect the Klan
members' safety by letting them ride in police vehicles to a police
garage, where they could don their white robes.
Police union attorneys said they would not appeal, but they
blasted what they believe to be friendly treatment of the Klan.
"This mayor has not fought the fight and has been a traitor to the
cause," said union attorney Pat D'Angelo.
Jeffrey L. Berry, national imperial wizard of the American
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the KKK faction that will hold the
rally, said "the judge upheld the Constitution for us."
In an effort to divert attention from the Klan rally, local
political, religious and business leaders are promoting events
including prayer services, a cultural festival and a basketball
The Black Family Expo, an annual event featuring gospel and
blues music, poetry readings and seminars on topics such as health
and home buying, was planned long before the Klan rally.
The leader of the local chapter of the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People, George Forbes, a longtime
political rival of White, accused the mayor of coddling the Klan.
The NAACP asked the city for a permit to hold a
counterdemonstration, but the city rejected the request Tuesday
because the proposed location is part of the city's detailed
security plan for the Klan rally. The city has recommended other
Joel Ratner, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League,
which tracks Klan activity, said the KKK will have a big turnout if
it attracts 25 members. The group officially asked that up to 100
members be allowed.