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White Supremacists Protest Civil Rights March in Forsyth County

August 23, 1992 GMT

CUMMING, Ga. (AP) _ Marchers singing civil rights anthems paraded through driving rain and past a torrent of jeers Saturday to repeat their 1987 walk through Forsyth County, where blacks have been unwelcome for 80 years.

In Tyler, Texas, competing rallies were held by the Ku Klux Klan and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The Klan rally, attended by about 300 people, and the NAACP rally, attended by about 2,000, were peaceful.

In Georgia, Ku Klux Klansmen and others shouted, ″Go home, niggers″ from behind police barricades as the Rev. Hosea Williams led about 40 people to the Forsyth County Courthouse. The march started Wednesday in Atlanta, 50 miles away.

Earlier Saturday, about 50 white supremacists chanting ″white power″ had demonstrated at the courthouse to protest the march.

″We don’t take second billing to no niggers,″ Jerry Lord, a Klansman and county organizer for the white supremacist Nationalist Movement, said at the rally. ″Y’all want another Los Angeles? Stand up to them black devils.″

Nationalist Movement first officer Richard Barrett later called reporters to say Lord had been suspended from the group for 30 days because of his language and his behavior at the rally.

Assistant Police Chief Buck Jones estimated that about 350 white supremacists jammed the streets, along with several hundred onlookers.

″The true Forsyth is showing up,″ said Williams, who worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s civil rights movement. ″They said there wasn’t no more Klan activity. ... We’re launching a new era. We’ve dreamed long enough.″

About 200 police separated the marchers from onlookers and members of the Klan and the white supremacist Nationalist Movement. Several police marksmen lined the courthouse roof.

Williams gave Sheriff Wesley Walraven a document that said blacks would forgive the county for driving them out 80 years ago if officials began recruiting black businesses and more black residents.

The county’s hostility toward blacks dates to 1912 when an 18-year-old white woman was raped and beaten to death, allegedly by a black man. A man was lynched and about 1,000 black residents were forced to abandon their homes.

There are currently 14 blacks among Forsyth County’s 49,000 residents, according to the latest census.

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Five years ago, Williams and followers were pelted with rocks and bottles as they marched through Cumming. He returned a week later with more than 20,000 marchers, who demonstrated peacefully.

Williams returned Saturday because he said nothing had changed in Forsyth since the earlier march.

White demonstrators wearing T-shirts with Confederate flags passed petitions through the crowd, seeking signatures to protest ″the Hosea Williams invasion.″

A banner over the gathering read ″America Arise: Destroy Minority Tyranny.″

In Tyler, Texas, about 300 people gathered in front of the Smith County Courthouse for a Klan rally, which Sheriff J.B. Smith said he believed was the city’s first.

About an hour later, more than 2,000 people jammed a convention center for the NAACP rally.

″I have no doubt that the presence of the Klan increased the turnout,″ said Wayne Johnson, Galveston’s first black elected county commissioner.

The NAACP moved its quarterly meeting to Tyler, about 85 miles east of Dallas, from Corpus Christi to draw attention to several cases of alleged police brutality.

″When city officials say publicly, for the record, that there is no race- relation problem in Tyler, you know they are either asleep, dead or playing East Texas possum,″ said David Galloway, co-chairman of Tyler Together, a race relations panel.