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Jackson and Klan face off in Connecticut

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Jesse Jackson said his confrontation with a white supremacist group opposed to the town observing the Martin Luther King holiday shows there is "unfinished business" in the struggle for civil rights.

Jackson came to Wallingford on Wednesday to applaud a new state law that forces the town to observe King Day. Wallingford has been the only town in the state to keep offices open on the holiday.

A group of about 10 people waving Confederate flags showed up to protest Jackson's visit.

"Those who are waving these flags show us there is unfinished business," said Jackson, who offered to shake hands and tried to peek under the face mask of one man who was dressed in Ku Klux Klan garb but was rebuffed.

"It's time for sheets to be worn on a bed and not to hide a person's face," Jackson said.

The confrontation occurred before Jackson attended a church service and led a march of over 500 people to town hall for a rally.

The state Senate gave final approval to the King Day bill late Tuesday, and Gov. John Rowland signed it Wednesday morning.

Wallingford Mayor William Dickinson has said the controversy is not about race, but a dispute with the town's labor unions. He wants town workers to swap another holiday for King Day, but union leaders want workers to get the day off as an extra paid holiday.

Dickinson did not return telephone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

"It's important to make bigots feel uncomfortable in Wallingford and everywhere else," said Democratic state Rep. Mary Mushinsky. "And it's important that my hometown Wallingford reiterates that we are a town that thrives on diversity."
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