Demonstrators hold signs and flags along North State Street at the North Vernon City Park during Saturday’s event.—Submitted Photo by Mike Webb
A threat or prank?
A voice mail message left on my office phone late Monday could be a prank or maybe it is a lame attempt at intimidation. The message was from a man who identified himself as David Alexander and said he is a grand dragon with the Ku Klux Klan. "We are holding a rally Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the town square," he said. "We would love it if you would run a story to let people know. "We would love your support of the KKK or else we will have to lynch 10 citizens in our public rally in the town square. You don't want no public lynching. You're really going to have to support us or we will lynch you." If nothing else, the message provided a laugh for myself and others on the newspaper staff.
A white supremacist group held a rally at the North Vernon City Park last Saturday, attracting attention, scaring adults and children, and raising the ire of Mayor Harold "Soup" Campbell. "I hate to even give them the pleasure of acknowledging their existence," Campbell said, a tone of disgust in his voice. "The more we do, the more we encourage them to stir up hate and discontent." One North Vernon woman, Andi Crater, says such groups should not be allowed to hold public demonstrations at the park. After finding a flyer at the park four days earlier advertising the rally, Crater said she wanted to stage a counter demonstration. She said she contacted the mayor's office and was told that the group could not rally without a permit, so she scrapped her idea (see her letter to the editor on page 2A). The group held their rally anyway. It was billed as White Pride World Wide Day and sponsored by a group that calls itself the Supreme White Alliance. Around a dozen individuals were involved, holding signs and flags, one of them even wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style robe and hood, as they gathered along North State Street to display their messages to passing motorists for about an hour.
"I looked out one of our bedroom windows to see them from there," said Crater, whose family lives near the park. "They were not supposed to be there, according to what the mayor's office told me. I was angry." So was Campbell. "I don't blame any mothers or anyone else at the park or who was passing by for being upset," he said. "Nobody I'm aware of in this community likes groups like this or wants them parading here." When it comes to trying to regulate such gatherings, government officials have to navigate a slippery slope. "I thought we had a strong enough ordinance for the police chief or park director to regulate things like this," Campbell said. "One of them is supposed to sign a permit for people to do something like this at the park, but both were out of town because of spring break. These demonstrators knew they were gone, too." Campbell said he does not have the authority to prevent such rallies. "I don't have those powers and I don't know why people think I do," he said. "I bit my tongue and let them use it." The Constitution guarantees the right of peaceful assembly, pointed out the mayor. "Like it or not, these people are within their constitutional rights," he said. "The Skinheads, Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, John Birch Society, whatever you wish to call these groups, are a part, a bad part, of this nation. Having them demonstrate in North Vernon is nothing my administration wants. But I support constitutional rights for all and we have to be careful." Various groups often stage rallies and other events at the city park. "We have religious organizations use the park and groups like the Tea Party at times," Campbell said. "Most of it is good, not bad stuff. We have, however, received complaints when the Tea Party demonstrates about them waving signs and being a traffic hazard. We may have to beef up our ordinance to designate where they can be in the park." None of the people participating in Saturday's rally were identified, though Crater said she learned from social media that the demonstration's leader, listed as Jereme Phantom on the flyer, also goes by the name of Jereme Bowman. Before arriving at the park, the group reportedly went to the Walmart parking lot where they distributed flyers. Allegedly, a man told one of the demonstrators he was not interested. "Why are you not proud to be white?" the supremacist reportedly yelled back at him. "We don't need or want this kind of stuff from a hate group in North Vernon," said Crater, a mother of four young children. Meanwhile, a man who identified himself as David Alexander with the Ku Klux Klan said a KKK rally was to be held Wednesday on "the town square" (see separate story on front page).
Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014
Article comment by:
How about some audio of the "humorous" lynching voicemail on youtube or this site?
Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014
Article comment by:
It makes me sick to my stomach to see this type of KKK rally and it sure brings down North Vernon. I know I will not be visiting North Vernon anytime soon or buying anything there. Shame on the KKK.
Why was the FBI not notified for this David Alexander threats of lynching 10 people? Shame on all of you.