Attorney General William French Smith ordered the FBI yesterday to help District of Columbia police and U.S. Park Police handle demonstrations surrounding Saturday's planned visit and rally by the Ku Klux Klan organization.
Smith said yesterday he has asked FBI Director William Webster to get in touch with Klan spokesmen to determine the organization's travel plans, number of participants and other logistical details necessary for "minimum disruption" to the life of the city during the demonstrations.
"Some of the views that will be expressed on Saturday are abhorrent to me, as they are to the citizens of Washington," Smith said in a press release. "I am confident, however, that our respect for law and our belief in the right of free expression will overcome our distaste for the messages of hatred and bigotry."
Other District law enforcement sources, meanwhile, said yesterday that initial intelligence estimates indicate that perhaps no more than two dozen Klansmen may show up for the noontime march from the Capitol to Lafayette Park.
At the same time, sources said, several thousand anti-Klan demonstrators are expected to show up -- enough to concern officials about the possibility of violent confrontations.
One recommendation being considered is that the Klansmen proceed down Pennsylvania Avenue by bus rather than on foot.
In Tuscumbia, Ala., meanwhile, Stanley McCullom, director of the national office of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said yesterday that he had no firm estimate of how many Klansmen will actually make the journey for the first Klan march in Washington since 1925.
"We ought to have at least a couple hundred," McCullom said, "but a lot of our people are working people who are out of jobs right now. It's hard for them to make the trip."
Most Klan members, he said, would be driving in Friday to motels in Northern Virginia, although a few were expected to travel by airplane.
McCullom said he and other Klan leaders hoped the march and rally would focus attention on a number of national issues of concern to the organization, including pending legislation in Congress that he said would grant amnesty to illegal aliens and "make them all eligible for food stamps and bankrupt this nation."
Meanwhile, the Anti-Klan Network, a civil rights organization based in Atlanta, said it would form a "human billboard" denouncing bigotry along the parade route. Another group, the Labor/Black Mobilization, announced plans for another anti-Klan rally, in addition to several already announced. This one is scheduled to take place at First Street and Constitution Avenue NW, at 11 a.m. Saturday.