A Maryland-based Ku Klux Klan group plans on holding an event in Gettysburg National Military Park, site of the three-day Civil War battle, park officials said.
The Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacy group, will stage a three-hour event on Oct. 5, on the battlefield’s grounds, just a stone’s throw from the national cemetery. President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address - regarded as one of most famous speeches in U.S. history - was delivered at the dedication of the national cemetery.
Park officials released a statement listing Baltimore resident Richard Preston as the event’s coordinator. Preston’s group plans on using a podium to make speeches, park spokeswoman Catherine Lawhon told The Times. Additional law enforcement will monitor the event, which was approved on grounds that participants will be exercising their 1st Amendment rights, Lawhon said.
Preston’s organization staged a rally earlier this month at Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md. The rally's eight participants protested President Obama's immigration policies, among other issues, according to the Baltimore Sun.
In response to the KKK event, the Adams Unity Coalition-– comprised of more than 20 community groups in Adams County, Pa.-–is organizing an alternative rally across town.
Live music and speakers will promote unity and diversity, said organizer Ashley Andyshak Hayes of the Gettysburg YWCA.
“This isn’t what Gettysburg is about,” Anyshak Hayes told The Times, criticizing the agenda of the white supremacists' event. “It is hallowed ground. It has an important place in our national history.”
The national park, located in central Pennsylvania near the Maryland border, was the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, considered a turning point in the Civil War. In total, nearly 8,000 soldiers died and tens of thousands were injured.
This isn’t the first time that Gettysburg has served as a site for white supremacist events. In 2006, the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan staged a rally in Gettysburg that drew about 30 participants and more than 200 spectators, according to the Associated Press. In 2010, the Aryan Nation held a rally on the battlefield.