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Approx. 200 gather to watchKlan rally on courthouse steps

Nov. 9, 1999



On the steps of the McLennan County Courthouse Saturday, members of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan staged a rally to protest the federal government's treatment of the Branch Davidians in the 1993 siege on the compound at Mount Carmel.

Eighteen members of the Knights showed up to represent the largest membership of Klansmen in America. Two police barricades separated the Klansmen and approximately 200 people protesting them.

The Klansmen, adorned in their traditional white robes and white masks, spoke of contempt for the federal government and its alleged actions that led to the burning of the Davidian compound.

'I don't think the Klan ever got the restless crowd's full attention,' said Chris Yost, a Houston junior.

Alex Jones, an Austin radio show host who has been called a right-wing extremist and who started the fund to rebuild the church, brought a megaphone to counter the Klansmen's words, competing with the them for the crowd's attention. The onlookers, Baylor students among them, heard a mix of prepared statements from the steps of the courthouse by the Klan, and accusations from Jones in the street.

Jones and Imperial Grand Wizard Jeffrey Berry engaged in a seesaw of verbal assaults.

But Saturday they came to protest the treatment of the Branch Davidians.

'Everyone knows the Klan just came to get some publicity,' said Craig Stoker, a Midland senior.

The Klansmen spoke of being proud of their white skin and their white heritage, not racist hate claims on minorities.

Most of the crowd, except for a small group of white supremacists, disagreed with what they said, yelling that the hooded Klansmen stood for murder and ignorance. One woman called the Klansmen 'inbred,' drawing laughter from the crowd.

Berry spoke for approximately 45 minutes while Klansmen behind him raised their arms with white power, Nazi-style salutes.

The rally was scheduled to last two hours, but was cut short by Berry and his fellow Klansmen.

Throughout the rally, the crowd continually yelled for the Klan to take off their masks.