CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE
Hate has a First Amendment right. Courts have routinely upheld the constitutional right of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups to hold rallies and say what they want. Communities can restrict group movements to avoid conflicts with other citizens, but hate rallies will continue. Your efforts should focus on channeling people away from hate rallies and toward tolerance.
Do Not Attend a Hate Rally
As much as you'd like to physically show your opposition to hate, shout back or throw something, confrontations serve only the perpetrators. They also burden law enforcement with protecting hate-mongers against otherwise law-abiding citizens.
• In Memphis, Tenn., a riot broke out between Klansmen and counter-demonstrators on Martin Luther King's birthday. More than 100 police threw tear gas canisters and arrested 20 anti-Klan demonstrators while protecting the Klan's right to rally and speak.
• Ann Arbor, Mich., was stung by a rally in which 300 police failed to protect the Klan from a chanting crowd that threw rocks and sticks, hurting seven policemen and destroying property. The Klan members were able to stand on the First Amendment, surrounded by what one of their leaders called "animal behavior."
• A 25-minute march by the Aryan Nations through 15 blocks of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, cost the state, county and city more than $125,000 for public safety. Mayor Steve Judy described this as money spent to protect free speech. "But we could have taken the money and done a lot for human rights with it."
A World of Ideas
Every act of hatred should be met with an act of love and unity.
Many communities facing a hate-group rally have held alternative events at the same hour, some distance away, emphasizing strength in community and diversity. They have included picnics, parades and unity fairs featuring food, music, exhibits and entertainment. These events give people a safe outlet for the frustration and anger they want to vent. As a woman at a Spokane human rights rally put it, "Being passive is something I don't want to do. I need to make some kind of commitment to human rights."
• When the Klan announced plans to clean up shoulders and ditches along a stretch of road under the Adopt-a-Highway program in Palatine, Ill. — and officials realized they couldn't stop it — local teenagers flooded City Hall with so many applications that they claimed every inch of highway earmarked for the program and pushed the Klan onto a waiting list. "Truth and love and kindness and caring won out over hate," Mayor Rita Mullins said. "It restored my faith in humanity."
• Pulaski, Tenn., the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866, closed its doors to white supremacists attempting to rally there. Racists found the town closed for business, including McDonald's, the grocery store and Wal-Mart. "They couldn't find a place to get a hamburger or even go to the bathroom," the mayor said. In subsequent years, the Klan rally became a joke, and even the media got bored with it. "Last year no one came," the mayor said. "The year before that, the only TV was the Comedy Channel."
• When the Klan came to Indianapolis, local museums, the state capitol and other attractions opened their doors to citizens for free. Community leaders held a youth rally in a ballroom. A huge coalition, including the mayor and the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, placed a full-page ad in The Indianapolis Star deploring the Klan.
If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an Amen?