GREENSBORO, N.C., JUNE 7 -- Tight security and heavy news coverage today marked the first Ku Klux Klan march and rally here since 1979, when five members of the Communist Workers Party were killed in a gun battle with the Klan.

About 150 Klan members carrying Confederate flags and chanting "KKK" were closely surrounded by nearly 100 uniformed police as they marched a 10-block route.

Dozens more plainclothes police lined the route and marksmen kept watch from rooftops in an 18-block area.

And the procession was preceded and followed by police cars, vans carrying special forces and recreation department buses.

The parade was generally peaceful. Police arrested five persons for misdemeanors, including one white man who fired a blank pistol near the end of the procession.

An estimated 300 police took part in the operation, although the security coordinator, Capt. A.F. Cannady, would not confirm that number.

The news contingent numbered 112, according to the Greensboro Police Department, and included representatives from Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

A racially mixed crowd of about 100 followed the Klan march along its route, snapping photographs. Many said they had come out of curiosity.

"I need to be here like I need a hole in the head. But this is history," said Kathy Babbitt of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who was in Greensboro visiting her sister. Babbitt said she had been approached before the march by a Klan leader but told him she did not want to participate.

"He said they don't want violence or provocation," Babbitt said.

Klan member John Hamilton of Blacksburg, Va., was happy with the attention from reporters.

"It helps get our message across," he said.

"Our message is against intermarriage, antiabortion and what the Bible preaches. It's not antiblack; just anti-intermarriage."

The march and speeches brought almost no reaction from the crowd, although a black man was taken into police custody shouting, "God Bless America."

One young man leaned against a bank building weeping as the parade passed.