The gathering of a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan at Gettysburg National Military Park will take place on October 5, barring the closure of the National Park System, under a permit approved by the park.
The permit allows the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, under the coordination of Richard Preston, Baltimore, Maryland, to "exercise their First Amendment rights" at the military park from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on October 5. Activities will take place on the lawn area north of Meade’s Headquarters along Taneytown Road, according to park officials.
"As custodians of land owned by the American people, the National Park Service has a responsibility to make that land available for exercising those (First Amendment) rights," the park said in a release announcing the gathering.
The Park Service "mission in preserving and protecting the historic resources at Gettysburg," the release continued, "includes making them available to all Americans, even those whose views are contrary to the majority of the American public."
Bill Mcallister, whose great-great-great-grandfather was at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, told Channel 21 television out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that "(T)o have the KKK come here is obnoxious. To speak with as much emotion as I can get without swearing... to me it's abhorrent they would come to this battlefield to do anything."
Gettysburg officials could not immediately say this morning how many KKK members were expected for the event, though they thought it was fewer than a dozen.
Park staff will be working to ensure that park resources and visitors will not be adversely affected by this event. Additional law enforcement agencies will assist the park to make certain that demonstrators, visitors, and staff experience a safe atmosphere on the day of the event.
If the park system is closed because Congress cannot resolve the budget impasse the gathering would not be allowed.