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Klan Barred from Playing Phone Tapes : Courts: Judge rules the racist messages infringe on ‘Mister Rogers’ trademarks.

From Associated Press

The Missouri Knights of the Ku Klux Klan must stop playing racist telephone recordings that imitate the “Mister Rogers” children’s television show, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs on Wednesday also ordered the Klan and three of its alleged members to turn over tape recordings and other materials that lawyers for the program say infringe on its trademarks and copyrights.

Sachs issued the temporary restraining order one day after Fred M. Rogers and his Family Communications Inc. sued to stop the Klan’s use of the recording. The message imitates the sound effects and song of the “Mister Rogers” television show and Rogers’ voice and speech patterns.

“The messages are of racism, white supremacy and bigotry--the antithesis of everything Rogers and Family Communications Inc. stand for,” said Cynthia E. Kernick, a lawyer for Rogers from Pittsburgh.

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A group of civil rights, community and religious leaders complained last week that the number for a telephone in Independence that played the racist message had been circulated among elementary and middle school students in the metropolitan area.

The same phone number was used earlier this year to promote the philosophy of the Missouri Knights of the Klan.

The lawsuit names the Klan and Adam Troy Mercer of Independence; Michael Brooks, also known as M. B. Madison, of Kansas City, and Edward E. Stephens, also of Kansas City.

Attempts to reach Mercer, Madison and Stephens were unsuccessful.

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The judge set a hearing on a preliminary injunction for Oct. 20.


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