Ku Klux Klan holds rally downtown

Dave Shinall

Laquetta Shepard stood with her feet planted on the ground Saturday. Tears streamed down her face, but she refused to move, speak or leave.

At her feet, five members of the Ku Klux Klan kneeled in a prayer for white supremacy.

Shepard, a senior from Louisville, crossed the line between love and hate at Saturday’s Klan rally and stood with Klan supporters.

In less than five minutes, the robed klansmen scattered, and Shepard stood alone.

“I had my eyes open, and I started screaming, ‘They’re leaving, they’re leaving,'” Shepard said.

The rally ended – 50 minutes earlier than planned.

Imperial Wizard Scott Smith said he halted the rally early because of Saturday’s 88-degree temperature.

“It gets kind of hot in these robes,” he said.

Shepard saw it differently.

“I feel like God was using me to break it up,” she said.

Shepard’s actions ended a day that began with heavy metal music throbbing from a pair of loudspeakers on the parking lot of the Warren County Justice Center. It was the first Klan rally in Bowling Green in 20 years.

When the music stopped, Smith immediately yelled over the public address system.

“The SS Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are here,” he said. “White Power.”

Smith wore a red satin robe and hood, marking him as leader of the Louisville-based organization. Other Klan members wore black hoods and robes emblazoned with twin lightning bolts, the symbol of Adolf Hitler’s storm troopers.

Some just wore blue jeans and black t-shirts with “white power” logos and rebel flags on them.

Smith read in rapid-fire monotone from note cards to 13 supporters and about 75 protesters while another 200 people watched from behind a police barrier 100 yards away.

“Only Whitey is dumb enough to feed his enemy, clothe his enemy, educate his enemy and arm his enemy,” Smith said.

“Can you name another race that imports other races and trains them to compete with his own children for jobs, land, housing, school?” he asked.

Two dozen members of Celebrate Activism Now, a campus human rights organization, heckled and swapped insults with rally organizers while waving homemade signs denouncing the KKK and racism.

“Close-mindedness is going to kill us all,” said Louisville freshman Cheyenne Hohman, a CAN member.

Later, she led protesters in a sparring match of obscenities with Klan speechwriter James McKuen.

“We are here to fight to the death. And none of you cowards can stop us. I know y’all won’t,” McKuen shouted.

Protesters joined arms and danced in a circle to a polka beat as KKK loudspeakers blared, “Stand up and be counted. Show the world that you’re a man. Stand up and be counted. Join the Ku Klux Klan.”

Three Student Government Association representatives stood among protesters, only a block from City Hall.

“The trash that they’re speaking right beside our city government is absolutely ridiculous,” said Brandon Copeland, SGA vice president of Administration. “We’re out here defending diversity, defending multiculturalism, defending liberty and freedom and tolerance.”

SGA Congress member April Lash called the student protest “very positive,” despite the obscenities students traded with the KKK.

James Delong, a KKK supporter and student at Kentucky Advanced Technology Institute, wrapped himself in a red, white and black Nazi flag that bore a swastika and iron cross.

Later Saturday, KKK members rendered Nazi salutes and shouted, “White Power,” as the Imperial Wizard walked in front of them with a microphone.

Their music and speeches nearly made Bowling Green hairstylist Michelle James cry.

“I can’t believe that this is going on in 2002,” James said. “I’m almost in tears. I can’t believe that they can say stuff like that and mean it.”

Herald reporter Brandy Warren contributed to this report

Reach Dave Shinall at [email protected]