DUNLAP - White-robed Ku Klux Klansmen gathered on the steps of the Sequatchie County courthouse in Dunlap, Tennessee while more than 200 uniformed police officers from the Tennessee State Police, Hamilton County Police, and Chattanooga Police were on hand to assist Sequatchie County Police and Dunlap law enforcement officers with the event, though, protesters and onlookers remained peaceful.
Approximately 20 Klansmen were present. Attempts to speak to the crowd over an inadequate public address system resulted in a roar of noisemakers, whistles, and kazoos by anti-Klan demonstrators. The Klan were restricted to the south lawn of the courthouse and was not permitted to march. Literature distribution was allowed only across a police barricade.
Dunlap, approximately 45 miles north of Chattanooga, was also host to a group of protesters organized in part by Rick Rumpel, or "Hippie Rick" as he is also known. A native of Wisconsin, Rumpel is a poet/activist with publishing credits such as MAP of Austin Poetry, Expressions Journal, Sun-Optikos, The Poets' Monday Anthology, and others. He has made feature and open-mike appearances across America on stage, radio, and television.
"There were about 20 people there from the Klan, but our group alone had about that many protesters," said Rumpel. "We were joined at the protest by folks from Katuah Earth First and First Anti-racist Actions."
Dunlap's population is 99 percent white. Speculation regarding the choice of site was that the Klan hoped to minimize opposition by having the rally in a town devoid of minorities. Dunlap's Police Chief Clint Huth managed the multi-departmental security operation, which reportedly included plain-clothes FBI, Riot Squad, and Criminal Investigation Department details.
All participants were scanned with metal-detecting wands. Observers at the scene reported respectful treatment by police toward all participants.
The date, Oct. 16, was also the day the White Christian Heritage Festival was held in Pulaski, Tenn., at the Giles County courthouse 70 miles south of Nashville. Pulaski is the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan. Pastor Thomas Robb addressed the assembly at that event.
Many of the protesters who attended the Dunlap event are planning future actions in nearby venues. Next on their agenda is a protest action at the School of the Americas (SOA) in Ft. Benning, Georgia, scheduled for Nov. 20-21. Many peace activists decry the SOA as a site for training Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando, and psychological warfare, military intelligence, and interrogation tactics. Those in opposition frequently refer it to as the " School of Assassins."