Saturday, October 27, 2007
Ku Klux Klan rally planed for Storm Lake.
The Ku Klux Klan is planning a rally in Storm Lake in November that the group expects to attract 2,000 people, according to the leader of the Missouri Realm of the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The rally will reportedly be held November 17 on the Buena Vista County Courthouse grounds, according to the official, who goes by the name of Grand Dragon J.J. Klan. He said that he moved from Missouri to the Storm Lake area about a year ago, and now oversees the Church of the National Knights programs for both Iowa and Missouri from here.
The rally is aimed to oppose immigration, and in response to the racial strife in Jena, Lousiana, where six black students are accused to beating a white student.
Officials from Buena Vista County, the City of Storm Lake, Police and Sheriff's departments said they were unaware of any KKK gathering planned in Storm Lake, and said that the group had not applied for permits.
Buena Vista County Sheriff, Chuck Eddy, said that if a KKK event is held, he would probably request support from the Storm Lake Police.
Storm Lake Public Safety Director Mark Prosser said that if the group does hold a rally in the city, it would need to apply for a parade permit if any type of march were held, and a noise variance if they intend to have amplified sound. With the group's views, there could be security concerns as well, and in the event that an event became a threat to public safety, it could be closed down for that reason, Prosser said.
Local officials are not arguing with the group's right to speak.
"Traditionally issues dealing with the rallies of the KKK come down to freedom of speech," Prosser said. "They have a right to protection, and opposing groups have a right to have their say as well.
"Most certainly extreme viewpoints have been a concern throughout history," Prosser added. "A rally like this would require a lot of planning, and no requests for information in that regard have been made to the city."
J.J. Klan said that no permits would be sought, because the group had decided against making an optional march to the site. "They can't stop us from having a rally. We have the constitutional right to speak," he said. The event will include speakers and a time for questions, he said.
Plans have been in the works for a considerable time, and letters have been received from KKK groups in Iowa, Missouri, California, Indiana, Texas and Oklahoma showing an interest in attending, according to the Grand Dragon.
He said the Storm Lake event would be the largest rally of its type ever held by the organization.
While the Church of the National Knights is somewhat related to other KKK organizations, it rejects the use of violence and the breaking of laws that some other groups have resorted to, J.J. Klan said.
"Our beliefs are to do everything legally, to live by the Bible as it was before it was corrupted by modern man. We are a non-violent organization and we do not want any weapons brought to an event like this. We do not believe in violence. We fight for America, not against America."
However, the motives of the KKK have not changed.
"We are hoping to wake the white American people up to the fact that America is being overrun by these illegals and blacks wanting more than we ourselves as citizens are getting... we are tired of carrying the taxes and bills of these people on our backs," J.J. Klan said. He also said the group is protesting the Jena, LA situation, feeling that the black students involved are getting off easier than would be the case if whites had attacked a black person.
The KKK reached the height of its influence in the midwest in the 1920s, but has shown renewed energy with some organizing in a few Iowa towns, including Charles City and Nevada. Another group of Klan members conducted a protest against gay marriage in Des Moines in 2006.
Also in 2006, members of a separate Klan group, the brotherhood of Klans, distributed membership flyers in parking lots in Storm Lake and Denison, both meatpacking towns that have seen considerable immigration.
The Church of National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is based in South Bend, Indiana. Its web site describes it as "a gathering of White Christian men, women, and children, who are joined together because of the common bond shared by blood and by faith."
The website also prominently displays a photo of several modern Klansmen dressed in robes and pointed hats, unmasked, in front of a large burning cross.