Friday, December 03, 1999

KKK won't have cross on square

All permits taken before Klan applies

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Local church groups put up a cross and exhibit on Fountain Square where a KKK cross had been last year.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        The Ku Klux Klan won't get to put up its cross near Santa's workshop in Fountain Square this year, but members of the white supremacist group could be planning a rally in the city.

        Klan members inquired about city permits for their annual cross on Monday and were told that churches and Downtown Cincinnati Inc. had snatched up the last ones.

        But two weeks ago, the Cincinnati mayor's office received a handwritten request from a Klan member asking about requirements for a rally.

        “The mayor's office got a letter asking what permits are required to hold a rally,” said Carol Walker, administrative assistant in the Safety Depart ment, where the request was forwarded. “What came from (the Klan) wasn't clear. ... We need to know how large, where it will be, will streets need to be closed, how long it will last.”

        A request for more information was sent to the letter writer, S. Polson, at the Franklin post office box he listed as a return address. Ms. Walker said the city has not gotten a response.

        That is just fine with members of two churches and a former City Council candidate, who say they have been planning for months to apply for all available permits.

        “They just assumed they were going to get it,” said the Rev. Thomas Eisentrout of the Immanuel United Church of Christ. “Well, now our cross is in the exact same spot the Klan was in last year.”

        The Rev. Mr. Eisentrout called this “the right up in your face approach,” to stop the Klan from putting up their cross of “terror, racism and sexism.”

        The Rev. Mr. Eisentrout said he teamed up with the Rev. Jerry Hill of the Clifton United Methodist Church to maintain the cross until Dec. 20.

        Since 1992, the Klan has erected a cross in Fountain Square during the holidays, sparking controversy and protest.

        In 1997, the Klan did not get a permit for the cross because the member responsible for filing the request was sentenced to 55 years in pris on for child rape.

        Former Cincinnati City Council candidate Ken Anderson said Thursday he obtained the last permits available this year at the behest of Downtown Cincinnati Inc.

        “I was told how many permits were available and that if we could obtain live stage performances for the dates available, then no more permits would be issued,” Mr. Anderson said. “We had all of this wrapped up before (the Klan) could apply.”


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