The Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of North Carolina yesterday acceded to a D.C. police request that they shift part of their planned Oct. 28 march from Constitution Avenue to the Mall, where another police agency has jurisdiction.
The agreement reached at a meeting yesterday apparently clears the way for the Klan to fulfill its vow to march in Washington. It had a permit to march on Labor Day weekend, but D.C. police discouraged them from doing so when several thousand anti-Klan demonstrators massed along the route, blocking the street and injuring four police officers.
One D.C. police official who asked not to be identified said city police had been looking for ways to avoid having the Klan march on city streets. "They may have the right to be heard, but do they have the right to march?" and "Why should we have to pay to protect them?" were among the questions raised during discussions of how city police should respond to the Klan's permit application, the official said. "This whole thing raises the head of racism."
Yesterday's agreement would allow the Klan to march on Constitution Avenue between Seventh Street NW and the Capitol. The Klan originally planned to start its march at 14th Street NW.
Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, who sat in on a previous meeting about the march, characterized D.C. police as reluctant to go forward with the permit process.
Yesterday, Klan leader Virgil Griffin said D.C. police were slow to respond to his application of Sept. 17.
"We were promised an answer within a week of our application," he said after a 90-minute meeting with the police department's Special Operations Division.
"Seemed like they didn't want us to apply last time we were here," Griffin said.
Griffin said it is important for the Klan to march in Washington because he has encountered resistance in other cities.
"They keep saying if Washington can keep you from marching, we don't have to let you march here," he said.
The National Park Service and U.S. Capitol Police had already approved Griffin's original plan calling for a gathering on the Mall and rally on the Capitol steps, a repeat of the Labor Day weekend plans.
Griffin yesterday filled out a new application with the Park Service.
Earle Kittleman, a spokesman for the Park Service, said he expected the new application would be routinely approved.
"We consider them approved if we don't respond within 24 hours," he said.
Lt. Reginald Smith, a D.C. police spokesman, said the Klan group had submitted what he called an addendum to the original permit application asking to march on Constitution Avenue between Seventh Street and the Capitol.
Even though the Klan changed its application at the request of D.C. police, Smith said it is still not certain they will get the permit. He said a recommendation will be sent to Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr. after a careful review of the revised route.
He said D.C. police are mainly concerned about the cost of protecting the Klan from counter-demonstrators who have vowed to stop the Klan from marching. On Labor Day weekend, Capitol, Park and D.C. police put about 3,000 officers on the street.
"We have to look carefully at our resources," Smith said. "We have to provide police services for the rest of the city as well as on Constitution Avenue. We can't afford to have all our resources stretched out along the entire parade route."