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Ku Klux Klan plans to stage Largo rally

The Ku Klux Klan said it will stage a rally in Largo this month to protest gay rights and to support the Indian Shores commissioner who last month referred to Martin Luther King Day as "National N----- Day." Jane Hawk, the commissioner,said her name was used in the flier without her permission.

"I have never been a member of the Klan and I never will be," Hawk said. "I wish they hadn't used my name." She said she will not attend the rally, scheduled at 7 p.m. June 23.

The Klan wants to protest laws that give special protection to homosexuals partly because of the threat of AIDS, said Klan official Tony Bastanzio.

He said about two dozen white-robed Klan members would make speeches and pass out literature at Ulmer Park, on West Bay Drive near City Hall.

Largo officials said the Klan had not applied to use the park.

The park rents for $150 a day, and people who want to use it for large gatherings must speak to city officials to determine whether they need insurance for their event, said Cathy Santa, recreation and parks director.

When told of that requirement, Bastanzio laughed and said it would violate his constitutional right of assembly.

He said he would have the rally without applying for permission, and said, "I just hope to God that they arrest me" so he could sue.

Although the rally is partly in response to the gay rights ordinances that passed last week in Tampa and Hillsborough County, the rally will be in Largo because the Klan hasn't demonstrated there, Bastanzio said.

He said there are dues-paying members in the city, but no active chapter there.

City Commissioner James Miles said the Klan has the right to speak at the park, but added, "I would rather that they didn't."