Ku Klux Klan Rally At Gettysburg Scrubbed By Government Shutdown
Tired of hearing about how the federal government shutdown has negatively impacted Americans? Here's a bit of news that might perk you up: A rally for members of the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, a national white supremacist group, was scrubbed because of the government shutdown late Monday night. According to the Huffington Post, the Maryland-based KKK group was granted permission by the Gettysburg National Military Park to gather at the park on Saturday, Oct. 5.
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But because the government shuttered all nonessential government operations, including national parks, the group won't be able to use the park, where 76 employees were furloughed, for their gathering. The International Business Times reports that 11 other events slated to be held at Gettysburg were cancelled for October.
Just last month, the KKK group held a membership meeting at the Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, the site of a Civil War clash where thousands of soldiers died on the advent of the Emancipation Proclamation.
"Everyone says the Klan is white supremacist," said Richard Preston, the head of the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, according to Penn Live. "We are white separatists. We believe the races should not mix."
He added: "A black man who works 40 hours a week to provide for his family and raises his family the right way, we don't have a problem with him. We do have a problem with the man who wants to sell drugs in one corner and his wife on the other. We have a problem with that."
The 48-yaer-old became the head of the Maryland KKK group a year and a half ago, according to Penn Live.
In a press release, the National Park Service explained that they upheld Preston's and his group's right to freely express their beliefs, however unpopular they may be, under the First Amendment. "As custodians of land owned by the American people, the National Park Service has a responsibility to make that land available for exercising those rights," the statement said.
But even in the midst of a government shutdown, Preston vowed to show up anyways. "If the borough laws say we can be there, we will be there with a bull horn," Preston said Monday afternoon.
The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates there are between 5,000 and 8,000 active KKK members in the U.S.
The government shutdown early Tuesday morning closed all national parks. "Tourists will find every one of America's national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed," President Obama said in a statement Tuesday. "And of course the communities and small business that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck."
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