Klan leader calls for death for homosexuals

Published July 13, 1992|Updated Oct. 11, 2005

During a Ku Klux Klan rally here, blacks and Jews were not the usual targets.

Instead, about 50 Klansmen, skinheads and supporters proclaimed gays and lesbians should receive the death penalty.

During the rally on Saturday, the KKK faced a counter-demonstration by a large group that included gays and lesbians, members of the National Organization for Women and members of a local church that serves the gay community.

There were no arrests and no violence, said Officer Al Tolley, public information officer for Daytona Beach police.

About 200 people attended the rally at about 3 p.m. held outside City Hall, and anti-Klan demonstrators outnumbered Klansmen by about 3-to-1.

The Klan supporters were led by an Orlando man named John Baumgardner, who described himself as grand dragon of the Florida chapter of the Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

"As it is the current trend among homosexual perverts to step into the spotlight and boldly proclaim to the world their sick, deviate lifestyle, we of the Florida Ku Klux Klan are obliged to inform them and warn them that they will be put to death unless they repent from their blasphemy and abominations," said Baumgardner, reading from a prepared speech.

The Klan leader denied he was encouraging people to murder gays.

But Baumgardner added, "It's up to Christians to rise up and impose the death penalty on them."

Among the counter-demonstrators were members of Hope Metropolitan Community Church in Ormond Beach, a church which serves many gays and lesbians.

The Rev. Stephen Steele, a pastor at the church, said members of his congregation were there to counter hate with love.

"The Klan has brought its message of hate here. I can't believe they consider themselves to be Christians," he said.