Knights plan rally in WacoNov. 2, 1999
By John Drake
The Church of the American Knights will have a rally in front of the McLennan
County Court House in Waco at 2 p.m. Saturday to protest the federal
government+s actions during the Branch Davidian standoff in April 1993.
The white separatist group, which is the largest organization in the world
associated with the Ku Klux Klan, is calling the April 1993 siege on the
compound the 'Waco holocaust.'
'We feel that the government has no right to destroy anybody because of their
religious beliefs,' said Rev. Jeffrey Berry, national imperial wizard of the
American Knights. 'The government has no business committing violence against
While the organization has stressed their rally will not address race, at
least one student does not put much faith in that statement.
'Anytime the Klan comes in their costumes, they represent something and that
is racism in this country,' said David Ocamb, a Midwest City, Okla. sophomore
and president of the Young Democrats. 'They represent racism and intolerance
in American society and that needs to be fought against.'
His organization is planning a counter-demonstration to protest the American
'We are planning to meet together to do a rally against hate speech and people
who are not going to be accepting and caring of all individuals today,' he
said. 'Within the organization, we have the support of all of our membership.
We believe it's a unifying cause that all of the campus can believe in.'
Berry said those who would protest the Klan even when they have said they are
not going to address race should stop and listen.
'They have a right to believe that, (but) how are they going to know if
they're out there yelling and cursing? You learn more by listening than you do
by running your mouth.'
George Oliver, a Huntsville sophomore, said the Klan is indeed sending a
message by speaking on the Branch Davidians, but not necessarily the one they
'I think it's offensive to the people who have died,' Oliver said. 'One-third
of those people were minorities. If anything, it's a bit of a statement of
inconsistency on their part.
'Nobody believes what they are saying. They don't have to come to Waco to
protest the government. As diverse as Waco is, they come to start trouble.'
The American Knights are no strangers to protestors.
In a recent rally in New York, fewer than two dozen Klan participants were
drowned out by a massive showing of counter-demonstrators. The small showing
of members was a direct effect of a court order that they could not wear their
signature masks during the rally.
'It's dangerous to be unmasked,' said an officer with the Texas Realm of the
American Knights who identified herself as Mrs. Mary. 'This case in New York
is going to be taken to the Supreme Court. Their right to be there was not
taken away even though the freedom of speech and expression was taken away
from them, in essence.'
The American Knights said they will be in their regular attire Saturday,
including white robes and masks.
The student chapter of the NAACP originally intended to launch a large-scale
counter-demonstration but later abandoned the idea. Oliver, a founder of the
organization, attributed this to a lack of interest and time.
'There was just not adequate time to get the type of movement going that we
wanted,' he said. 'We wanted to make it a community effort rather than just
Baylor NAACP. We were trying to get some of the local churches, civic
organizations and others in the community.'
The NAACP's Waco chapter was one of the groups asked to participate.
'They didn't present any dissent, but that was about it,' Oliver said. 'Their
interest is in other things.'
Since deciding against a protest, the NAACP has shifted its focus to prayer.
'Prayer is the message that NAACP wants out,' Oliver said. 'Pray over these
people that their thought will go away because it+s a regressive thought and
it's not helpful; it's harmful.'
Ironically though, the group for which they are praying professes Christianity
as a basis for its ideas.
'We're an unpopular religious and political belief,' Mrs. Mary said. 'The
reason we are protesting is the killing of these people. It could have been us
just as well.'
Berry tried to distance himself from racial issues.
'The Klan is not against blacks,' he said. 'The Klan is about equal rights for
everybody. They were denied their rights of religious beliefs and the
government just went in there and slaughtered them.'