White supremacists rally amid big police presence

The Register-Herald/October 27, 2002
By Carrie O'Dell

Fayetteville - Security was tight in and around this Fayette County community. No, it wasn't Bridge Day. That was last Saturday. It was yesterday's white power rally sponsored by the World Church of the Creators and attended by members of the Ku Klux Klan.

More than 80 uniformed police officers and an undisclosed number of undercover officers were on hand to prevent any trouble, according to a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

State Police troopers stood in formation throughout the event, keeping rally participants in and spectators out.

But police were not the only separator: The participants were standing in a cattle pen.

And about 20 feet from the cattle pen lay cement barricades borrowed from the Division of Highways. According to state Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Randy Coleman, the barricades were to keep people who might be against the participants from driving vehicles into them. That type of trouble, according to Coleman, has happened before in different states.

Between the iron gates and the barricades stood troopers. Most held batons. Those who did not have batons had police dogs, which are trained in apprehension and to protect their handlers.

Overhead, a State Police helicopter circled from the beginning of the rally to the end. The law enforcement source also said the rally was videotaped from atop a nearby building, just in case a riot broke out and evidence of who perpetrated it was later needed.

A crowd of about 80 people at its peak gathered on the sidewalk to listen and watch. WCOTC leader Matthew Hale proclaimed his message into a megaphone: "There is no force on this earth that can stop us (white people) from having the homeland we deserve."

A spokesperson for the Knight Riders of the KKK said, "The Ku Klux Klan is in charge of America." Repeatedly, members of the two groups echoed the same phrase: "White power."

Angel Tyler of Fayetteville said she had never seen anything like the rally before. She did not agree with the preachings of the groups. "I think that all races are God's chosen people, and I think it's ridiculous." She then ushered her two daughters away from the rally.

Others had different opinions. Ashley Yarber of Fayetteville said, "I think it's good that they're actually able to do stuff like this. And I think the people that are attacking them (verbally) should go home, not them. I'm pretty interested in what they have to say 'cause it is true. If we didn't let all these immigrants in the country, then 9/11 would have never happened ... My uncle was in the KKK."

Yarber's friend, Tonya White, also of Fayetteville, did not defend the group's beliefs, but did defend the rally. "I just think that if they have something to say, they should be able to say it," she said. "If they want to say something, let them say it. They're not hurting anybody."

Thelma Stover of Beckley agreed with the rally. "I'm not here for hatred. I love everybody, but I'm against this polka-dot and striped America ... we're black, white, yellow ... They've opened the door and everybody's coming in. We are not white Americans anymore. We are mixed. I do think whites should stand up for their rights.

The crowd seemed mostly neutral, with only a few voices standing out in the crowd. One of those voices was that of Chris Luton of Huntington, who heard about the rally in his local newspaper and drove up at 6 a.m. with a few friends. "I just think it's really important for us to get out here to oppose this kind of atrocity, especially when an out-of-town group like the World Church of the Creators comes. It's especially important for us to get out here and let them know that we won't tolerate their presence."

Luton probably knows more about organizations like WCOTC and the KKK than most.

"When I was a kid, I was kind of involved with them," he said. "I know a lot about them. When I was in about ninth grade, I had a lot of friends that were involved in Nazi organizations. I started getting involved, then my best friend, ended up that he was Jewish, so that kind of got me out of it." These days, Luton makes it obvious that he is against such organizations.

At the end of the rally, after WCOTC and KKK members had said all they wanted to say, they left via state Division of Corrections vans.

"To make sure they did not have undue interactions with the town members, basically to protect them, the State Police provided transportation from a site outside of town and back to that site at the end of the rally," Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Joe Martin said.

State Police Maj. B.D. Gore, who directed security, said, "Our efforts in security today were to enforce the law and to make sure that everything went orderly and there were no problems with either side."

Despite the precautions, one small fight did break out. A man apparently in agreement with Hale and his members punched Luton. The man was apprehended before most people knew what was going on, however, and was arrested. His name was not released.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.