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Klan To Rally in Jasper, Texas

June 16, 1998

JASPER, Texas (AP) _ The Ku Klux Klan plans a rally next week in this town trying to recover from the killing of a black man who was chained to a pickup truck and dragged 2 1/2 miles until his body was torn to pieces.

Three white men are suspects.

The rally outside the county courthouse is scheduled for June 27. No parade permit was necessary, City Attorney Gary Gatlin said.

``They said we’re going to give you the assurance we’re not wanting to bring any guns, we’re not going to use the n-word, we’re not going to be doing anything to incite riots or anything like that,″ he said.

Authorities expect at least 20 Klansmen to participate in their white hoods and robes.

``I don’t want them coming,″ Sheriff Billy Rowles said Tuesday. ``Hopefully no one in Jasper will come to their rally.″

Gatlin said he was told by organizers that the purpose of the rally is to disavow any connection with three white suspects in the June 7 death of James Byrd Jr.

``They indicated they want to be here to state that they are not a part of their organization. They do not condone what they have done,″ Gatlin said.

Organizer Michael Lowe of Waco did not immediately return a telephone call Tuesday.

More than 500 people attended a service Monday to remember Byrd and pray for unity. Byrd, 49, was beaten then chained to the truck by his ankles and dragged to his death along a country road June 7.

The three white suspects are believed to have ties to white supremacist groups. Byrd was apparently targeted because he was black.

Byrd was buried Saturday after a funeral that attracted Jesse Jackson and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.

``I just wish it would all go away,″ 21-year-old Lucy Luetkemeyer said at Monday’s service, led by ministers striving to bring together the racially mixed east Texas town of 8,000.

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