Klan puts on robes for media

Lancaster Online/September 9, 2001
By Gil Smart

The Ku Klux Klan showed up in Lancaster County Saturday. Just not where they were expected.

About 3 p.m., the group held a brief rally in front of the Quarryville Municipal Building. Ten Klansmen, clad in black, white or purple robes, stood stoically as leader Roy Frankhouser, of Reading, told the assembled members of the media that they wanted to rally in downtown Lancaster, as originally planned but were prevented from doing so by anarchists, who harassed them, and city police, who refused to give them protection.

He vowed the Klan would return to Lancaster city soon. One Klansman held a sign, "Tomorrow Lancaster." The event lasted about 25 minutes before the Klansmen clambered into their cars and drove away. It was an underwhelming end to a tense day.

Hundreds of people swarmed King and Duke streets in downtown Lancaster, expecting the Klan. The crowd included African-American community leaders, anarchists, communists, Klan sympathizers and a small army of police. The only group missing was the Klan.

Throughout the day, there were rumors that Klansmen were in the city, driving by the courthouse. Those rumors were fueled, in part, by Frankhouser's calls to members of the media, claiming the Klan would appear at any moment.

Police seemed more concerned about the 100 or so anarchists gathered on the south side of King Street than the Klan (see related story, A-10). Next to the anarchists, a smaller but more vocal group of communists, the Progressive Labor Party, chanted "Death to the Klan" and other slogans. When it became apparent the Klan wouldn't show, they chanted "Frankhouser, you're a liar, we'll set your ass on fire."

Also on hand were a small group of people who said they supported the Klan's right to rally. "I'm not a Klan member," said Phil Folkman of Lancaster, "but even the Klan has the right to free speech."

Blaine Mease, Mountville, drove past the gathering twice with a Confederate flag flying out the back window of his pickup truck. He also wore a Confederate flag hat and T-shirt, but denied supporting the Klan. "There's no Klan here," he pointed out.

On Friday, city police said they had been contacted by members of the branch of the Klan that planned to come here, the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, who told them the rally was off.

However, Frankhouser who is reportedly not affiliated with the American Knights then told city police the Klan was coming. And he said he had every intention of showing up.

But he said Klansmen were chased and attacked by anarchists, who threw bricks at Klan vehicles, denting the roof of one car. He also said that when Klan members tried to get out of a parked car, police officers on bicycles prevented them from doing so.

He claimed he had contacted city police, seeking protection, but was denied it. Previous reports that the Klan had never contacted city officials were "totally false," he said. In the end, Frankhouser said "in the interest of public safety, we decided to come to Quarryville." Why Quarryville? "Why not?" said Frankhouser. Quarryville officials were mortified.

Police chief Kenneth Work said he had no idea the Klan was coming until shortly before 3 p.m., when he looked up from his desk to see men in pointy hats congregating in the parking lot.

"Quarryville Borough, the residents and the police department do not sympathize with the Klan at all," said Work, a retired city police captain hired as Quarryville chief in July.

"They came here to a dead-end street, preached to the choir and the press and no one else." Mayor Doug Motter said rumors had been circulating for weeks that the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan might come to Quarryville, but when that group canceled last week, he thought the case was closed. Then he got a call from Chief Work.

"It's unfortunate that outside groups would come here and make a spectacle like that," said Motter.

The rally seemed more symbolic than pragmatic. It included a perfunctory prayer by Frankhouser, a pastor in the Reading-based Mountain Church of Jesus Christ, in which he prayed for Lancaster city officials just before vowing to take them to court if they failed to accommodate the Klan next time it came to town.

There was also some confusion. When asked if the Klan had contacted state police about coming to Quarryville, Frankhouser barked out to one of his Klansmen: "Did we ask the state police?" "No," replied the Klansman.

Frankhouser tried again. "Didn't we contact the state police?" "No," came the answer. "We did contact the state police," Frankhouser said.

Then, after a military-style salute and a few shouts of "White pride!" and "What do we want white power!" it was over.

But Frankhouser vowed Lancaster hasn't seen the last of him. "In the future, I will go to Lancaster," he said. "We will have our constitutional rights preserved."

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