KKK seeks rally rules

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 12, 2000

Worries that a Ku Klux Klan rally might be coming to Ironton this summer are just rumor at this point, city officials say.

Friday, May 12, 2000

Worries that a Ku Klux Klan rally might be coming to Ironton this summer are just rumor at this point, city officials say. The concerns were discussed at Thursday night’s Ironton City Council meeting.

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Council member Hugh Donald Scott received a copy of a Dayton newspaper article that quoted a Klan member saying the KKK would have a rally in Ironton in May. Scott brought the article to council’s attention at Thursday’s regular meeting.

Scott said he was worried the white supremacist group might try to become a part of the Ironton Memorial Day Parade which, in its 132nd year, is the longest running parade honoring war heroes in the nation.

Although the city was contacted months ago, permits have not been filed and further contact has not been made, Mayor Bob Cleary said.

"I was contacted two months ago and I informed them of what it takes to do a rally as far as permitting," Cleary said. "You can’t say no, you can’t do it. But they do have permits they have to file. We have not had any further contact."

The Memorial Day Parade Committee files for the parade permit each year and committee members have the right to accept or decline anyone’s application to be a part of the procession, Cleary said.

"Once we give them the permit, it’s up to them to regulate who’s in the parade," he said.

The parade committee has not been contacted, however, said Marilyn Caniff, committee secretary and trustee.

"Unless the entry form is in the post office box, they have not applied to be in the parade," Mrs. Caniff said.

The KKK would not be allowed to march in the event even if the group did apply, Mrs. Caniff added.

"One of the rules states that no controversial issues may be presented in the parade," she said. "That would cover it."

Without going through someone else’s event, Klan members would have to file for a city park or street permit to have a rally, Cleary said. And any liability issues would be taken into consideration before the permit was granted.

"We would look at every event and try to get some kind of opinion as to how much liability the city has for the function," he said. "Every individual event has different requirements. I would think the city would bear the force of extra security."

And despite recent law enforcement layoffs, if the Klan would come to Ironton, the city would provide adequate protection, Cleary added.

"I don’t view a Klan rally as having a lot of support here," he said. "I think we have ample security. It would require overtime, but we would provide it and ask for mutual aid from surrounding areas."

Although Cleary does not agree with the Klan’s philosophy, he knows that everyone has the right to his or her own opinion.

"Regardless of personal opinion, they do have rights," Cleary said. "Although you may not agree with the issue, people have unalienable rights. That’s what the Constitution guarantees you."

And considering that the Klan has not pursued the permit application, Cleary’s attitude might just have prevented them from coming to Ironton.

"I had one phone call about the first of March," Cleary said. "I told them the process for the permit package. They told me they would be here to look at city parks and I haven’t heard from them since."