A spokesman for the National Park Service said yesterday that a Ku Klux Klan group will probably be granted permits next week to gather at the U.S. Capitol and march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The demonstration, the Klan's first major appearance in the nation's capital since a similar parade along the same route in 1925, would probably involve 200 to 300 of the organization's members, according to Sandra Alley of the park service information office.
Alley said two Klan officials, Don Black of Metarie, La., and Tom Robb of Harrison, Ark., met yesterday with about 20 representatives of the District, Capitol and park police to discuss the Klan's application for demonstration and parade permits.
She described the 40-minute meeting as routine -- the sort required for anyone from joggers to kite flyers requesting permission to hold an organized event on park service land.
Technically, Alley said, the application will remain under review until next week. But, she said, such applications are almost never turned down, except where there is a conflict with other events. No such conflict is envisioned.
Alley said Black, Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which has headquarters in Tuscumbia, Ala., and Robb, the group's national chaplain, mentioned reports of anti-Klan activities in the Washington area and voiced concern for the safety of the parading Klansmen.
They were told, Alley said, that the police would seek to guarantee that their event, like the planned event of any other applicant, "went off well" with no disruption.
She said the Klansmen said some of their members would wear robes and hoods and others would not. They volunteered, however, that none would wear masks or try to burn crosses, Alley said.
According to the application filed by Robb and Black, the Klansmen will assemble at the East Front of the Capitol around 11 a.m. Nov. 27, and march down Pennsylvania Avenue to an afternoon-long rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House.
The demonstration will be the Klan's first major appearance in Washington since 25,000 robed and hooded Klansmen paraded along the same route 57 years ago. Alley said Robb and Black mentioned several times yesterday that they hoped to evoke memories of that march.
Another Klan group, the Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan, plans a "Support Your Police" rally at 10 a.m. today at Lake Needwood Park, north of Rockville.
Gary Smith, president of the 500-member Police Association of Montgomery County, said yesterday that although he respects the right of any organization to demonstrate, "I resent this shallow attempt by a group of extremists to gain publicity . . . "
The county police, he said, already have the "respect and support of our county residents . . . We take comfort in the fact that it doesn't come from a bunch of idiots in bedsheets."
An anti-Klan rally is also scheduled today at noon in Woodside Park in Silver Spring. Religious leaders in the Washington area have called for similar anti-Klan efforts.