Klan largely ignored in Chilton County

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 24, 2002

BNI Newswire

Eight-year-old Tyler Miller, still dressed in a dusty T-shirt from his baseball game, crouched behind a tree beyond the police tape Saturday, watching as Ku Klux Klan members raised their flags and their voices.

"This is stupid," Miller said. "Everyone should be able to live together."

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So why was he listening?

"I wanted to hear what they had to say. I still think it’s stupid," he said.

About 20 members of the Klan, none of whom was from Chilton County, rallied at Ollie Park Saturday, taking on everything from drug crimes to Mexican immigrants.

Miller walked over from the baseball field with Brandon Smith, who stopped to talk to Jamal Morrison.

"Can you believe this?" Smith asked Morrison, a friend from Adair Middle School, as he shared with the older boy a handful of sunflower seeds.

Smith and Miller are white; Morrison is black.

"I think it’s wrong," Morrison said, balancing on the bike he had been riding through the park when he stopped to listen to the rally. "I wish there was a law against this."

As the boys spoke, one of the Klan members ­ "Brother Gerald" of Tennessee ­ was talking about integration and how it hurt schools to have to educate "black savages."

The boys disagreed with the comments.

"I think we should go to school together," Miller said, over the shouting from the rally.

Miller and his friends were three of only about eight spectators who showed up to listen to the rally, which promoters had predicted would attract up to 100 people.

Some people who had been in the park for other events listened from farther away, but the audience in front of the police tape numbered about eight people, not including media from two television stations and at least one newspaper.

Clanton Police Chief James Henderson said he did not anticipate any problems from the rally, although 30 law enforcement officers were on the scene.

Henderson wasn’t too surprised by the low turnout of spectators.

"I think we’ve outgrown this kind of stuff," he said.