Klan's Gettysburg rally draws diverse, mostly peaceful spectators

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GETTYSBURG -- About 30 members of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan stood behind barricades on the Civil War battlefield and proclaimed hatred for blacks, Jews, homosexuals and Latinos.

KKK Imperial Wizard Gordon Young also called Saturday for the United States to pull its troops out of Iraq and use them to patrol the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration.

Several groups came to the national park to counter-demonstrate. National Park Service spokeswoman Katy Lawhon said there were no major incidents; one man was cited for entering a restricted area, where he ran carrying a rainbow flag.

Confederate re-enactors from Virginia came to protest the Klan's adoption of the Confederate battle flag as an emblem and its claim to be a continuance of the Confederate cause.

"These guys don't stand for anything I stand for," said re-enactor Tim McCown, of Jefferson, Md. "And it's time we disengage our flag from what they stand for."

Representatives of the national Sons of Confederate Veterans also came to protest the KKK's efforts to identify with the Confederacy. In a nearby park, churches and other groups held a Unity Day rally.

Gettysburg resident Steve Alexander, 52, shouted himself hoarse from the barricades, calling the Klansmen cowards and worse.

"I'm sick and tired of this," said Alexander.

More than 150 law enforcement officials patrolled the event, which drew a crowd of about 200 spectators, some of whom echoed the Klan's calls while others jeered their rhetoric. About 30 journalists covered the event.

The World Knights obtained a permit in July for the two-hour demonstration. The National Park Service granted it under the group's First Amendment rights to free speech.

Young's group and other white-supremacist organizations held a similar event June 10 at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md.



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