6 Arrested In Klan's Parkside March

Posted: May 23, 1988

The Pennsylvania grand dragon blamed outside agitators for the "pitched battle in the streets" during the Ku Klux Klan march Saturday in which a police officer was injured and six were arrested in a tiny Delaware County borough.

Grand Dragon Rick Fogel, 26, also blamed the Klan's low turnout on Klansmen who couldn't find their way to Parkside, a predominantly white borough of

2,400 outside of Chester, a predominantly black city.

Yet the York County resident vowed that the march to commemorate Armed Forces Day would be the first of "a long summer of (Klan) activities" around the state.

Later, a woman who identified herself as his wife but would not give her name by phone, said she doesn't condone or agree with her husband's Klan activities. "They're all brainwashed," she said.

Parkside Police Chief John Flynn Jr. said Cpl. Leon Hopkins, a Delaware County Jail guard who was temporarily sworn as an auxiliary Parkside policeman, was injured by a police horse during one scuffle, and six persons were arrested on charges that included aggravated assault, disrupting a procession and drunkenness.

A spokesman for Crozier-Chester Medical Center said Hopkins was treated for a sprained ankle and released.

Chief Flynn said things went "extremely well," considering the potential for a riot. "I feel fortunate that we walked away with (only) that many arrests," he said.

Fogel, who led 33 white-robed and hooded Klansmen from outside Delaware County behind a phalanx of 95 state troopers in riot gear in the court- approved five-block parade, said the march "was perverted into a pitched battle in the streets."

"We've done the same thing in 25-30 towns in the past year and never had this kind of thing happened. We've had press coverage at all of them, but it wasn't made into a national event," he said. "The majority of agitators were

from outside Parkside."

Most of the marchers were Klan officials from surrounding counties, he said.

As a helicopter circled overhead, 150 volunteer police officers from nearby communities wore riot gear and lined the streets of Parkside, which were five deep with an estimated 750 to 1,000 onlookers.

The predominantly white crowd shouted, "Go home," "Death to the Klan," and "You got to hide your face," at the marching Klansmen, who included four women, one of whom wore a green jacket emblazoned with "England out of Ireland."

A few spectators threw bottles, batteries and rocks during the 23-minute parade.

Les Segich, 56, a longtime Parkside resident who videotaped the "once in a lifetime" march, said "The Klan got the attention it wanted, but the people of Parkside proved to them they didn't want them to be here."

Parkside officials had tried to prevent the march, but the American Civil Liberties Union defended the Klan's right to march under the First Amendment and, last week, U.S. District Court ordered the Klan and the borough to work out an agreement.

The deal was that 100 Klansmen could march 40 minutes along the five-block stretch of Edgmont Avenue, parkside's only commercial thoroughfare. But less than half that number marched about half that time.

The KKK members were joined by a few black-clad "skinheads," who espouse neo-Nazi beliefs, and an unemployed security guard, Neil Mattis, 24, of Drexel Hill, who called himself "The Red Baron" and carried a makeshift Confederate flag and wore a jacket painted with skulls and switchblades.

Before the parade, Mattis said, "I feel proud and hold my head up high to march with the Klan today," while a young woman whispered to him: "You have a lot of courage." He smiled.

The Klan stepped off about 10:35 a.m., followed by crowds on both sides with signs, "We still walk for freedom," and "Just say no to racism."

The march attracted members of the International Workers Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the Pagans motorcycle gang and residents who had been urged to stay inside and bring in their lawn furniture. One man in his 20s with long hair in a business suit shouted the Klan cars' license numbers.

When the parade reached Parkside Methodist Church on East Roland Street, where a sign read "Red, Yellow, Black, White, They are precious in His sight," a white woman later identified as Mary Elizabeth Lonergan, 36, of Philadelphia, screamed, "You f------ murderers." She ran at the Klansmen to grab a hood off one of them.

During the melee that followed, police said Constance Bass, 34, of Magnolia Avenue in Philadelphia, jumped on the back of a policeman who was arresting Lonergan. Police on horseback pushed back the crowd, and acting Officer Hopkins fell and was stepped on by a horse.

Lonergan and Bass, members of the Progressive Labor Party-affiliated International Committee Against Racism, were charged with assault, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, disrupting a parade and recklessly endangering another person.

Also arrested were Thomas Dorsey, 30, of Chester, charged with public drunkenness; Robert Douthert, 30, of Glenolden, charged with assault, disorderly conduct and disrupting a parade; Theodore Lamont Rockwell, 28 and his brother Kim David Rockwell, 31, of Chester, who were charged with assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, disrupting a parade and disorderly conduct.

George Snyder, identified later as a Klan member who had applied for the parade permit, was taken into custody for carrying a gun, but was released later when he was found to have a permit, said Flynn.

After the parade, the Klansmen returned to shed their robes in the parking lot of the Brookhaven Shopping Mall on Edgmont Road, cordoned off by state troopers in orange coats and surrounded by screaming protesters.

"We left kind of hastily," said Fogel. The driver's windows in two Klansmen's cars were smashed by flying bottles as the 11-car caravan sped away at 11:03 a.m.

Fogel said "more than a handful" of parade-watchers followed the caravan to an undisclosed location where they asked to join the white supremacist organization. Fogel said he gave them applications, but "a few didn't have the $20 fee to join."

"Pennsylvania is the third-biggest state in the Invisible Empire, outdistancing the Southern states," Fogel said.

The state's ranking is determined by size, number and frequency of activities and the number of delegates sent to the national KKK convention, he said. Klan members include longshoremen, truck drivers and businessmen, he said.

The grand dragon commended police for controlling the crowds and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for their decision ''not to agitate."

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