December, 1982

By Paul DeRienzo


(LAFAYETTE PARK)-A mostly Black group of demonstrators from the Washington D. C. area turned a Ku Klux Klan rally into a festive occasion on November 27, Thanksgiving weekend. They were joined by thousands of leftists drawn to D.C. because the Klan had been granted a permit to march by Washington police and the Interior Department.

People waited along Constitution Ave. in front of the Capitol where the Klan was supposed to begin their march to the White House. Several thousand cops in full riot gear, carrying gas masks separated the demonstrators into two groups. Meanwhile demonstrators had become victims of a police diversion. The Klan met on the Capitol grounds, but since they kept their sheets in shopping bags, they were able to slither away under protection of the pigs.

The cops continued their diversion with a massive presence along Constitution Ave. even after the Klan had split. The frustration level among people who had come to "welcome " the Klan surfaced abruptly when the cops pulled out. The crowd surged after the retreating cops. A brief but intense shoving match ensued as shouting and laughing people tore snow fences apart and whaled into the streets.

Across from the White House in Lafayette Park a couple of thousand demonstrators had gathered. Skirmishes broke-out as police sought to control’ The crowd with tear gas. The people answered this act of aggression with a hail of bricks and bottles.

Horse cops charged after the brick throwers like Custer’s 7th Cavalry. At a street corner a block from the White House people regrouped and counterattacked. More bottles and bricks showered the police who were slowly forced back towards the White House. The crowd stormed the retreating police line. Large boards, bricks ripped out of the pavement in Lafayette Park, rocks and other objects hit the cops and they ran, back towards the White House.

There they regrouped, put on masks and moved in under the cover of heavy gas. As the gas hit home one protester yelled, "suck it in, the gas smells good! " The U. S. Park Police did their customary number of grabbing and beating people as they advanced.

Next rebellion spread from the White House to McPherson Square, where the crowd, having tasted the gas, re-assembled at a ‘legal’ protest. An unmarked police car was overturned and cop vehicles had their windshields removed with rocks. People took the chance to go "Christmas shopping" along Vermont Ave. near the park. One demonstrator was heard yelling "Merry Christmas" as he liberated a bicycle. Cops slammed another demonstrator through the window at Scholl’s cafeteria.

Finally the demo thinned out and soon only a handful of liberals from the All Peoples Congress remained still trying to "cool out" demonstrators. All in all it was a wonderful event and people left with a sense of fulfillment that the Klan and their protectors-the cops had been successfully confronted.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan had originally planned to march in D.C. on Nov. 6th. The Coalition for National Unity Against the Klan planned a counter-rally. The coalition was formed by groups like All People’s Congress, the Communist Workers Party, National Anti 3acist Organizing Committee, Black policemen from D.C., Black church leaders and the National Anti-Klan Network. Announcing that they were "afraid of a riot by Blacks and Communists, " Bill Wilkinson’s "Invisible Empire" faction of the Klan then proceeded to move the, v. 6th Klan event to a D.C. suburb. A counter-demonstration organized by mainstream religious groups and liberal politicos was put together in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Klan held a "support our local police " rally in Woodmere Park surrounded by a phalanx of pigs, though there was a brief scuffle between Progressive Labor Party and the cops.

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