Thursday, December 07, 2000

City to charge KKK for police to protect cross on square

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Ku Klux Klan isn't getting a Christmas card from Cincinnati, it's getting a $10,293 bill.

        City Council members voted unanimously Wednesday to charge for police security when the Klan erected its cross in Fountain Square over the weekend.

        At the same time, however, council members criticized the use of extra security and ordered police to stop monitoring the cross 24 hours a day.

        “This should not be absorbed by the taxpayers of Cincinnati,” said Councilwoman Alicia Reece. “We're utilizing taxpayer money to protect hate on the square.”

        After months of trying and failing to find a legal way to avoid issuing the Klan a permit for its annual cross, council members say they now hope the bill will dissuade the group from coming back next year.

        But the city manager and lawyers say it will likely end in court.

        “I said they should not be surprised if there is a court challenge,” City Manager John Shirey said.

        Although the Klan did not request a police escort, 31 police officers and five supervisors were assigned to Fountain Square when the Klan put up its cross. After the cross went up, officers were assigned to patrol the square 24-hours a day.

        Mr. Shirey described the heavy police presence as an error in judgment by the officer in charge — based on threats of vandalism and out of a desire to keep the Klan from returning to fix the display as they have in years past.

        Council members said they became aware the police were “protecting the cross” on Monday.


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