White Supremacists' Rally Sparks Clashes

From Associated Press

Witnesses reported minor confrontations in the streets Saturday as police kept hundreds of demonstrators at bay during a rally by white supremacists in a city still feeling the effects of deadly race riots more than 30 years ago.

Matthew Hale, leader of the white supremacist group World Church of the Creator, spoke to about 70 supporters inside a library while police officers in riot gear, some on horseback, separated shouting groups of his supporters and anti-racist protesters.

"We seek the advancement of white people, our people, without any apologies, any compromise, any groveling before anybody," Hale told supporters and spectators inside the library.

Marion Kinard, 31, of York, said he attended the speech with his two sons, ages 4 and 6, to teach them about racism.

"I want my children to know that they're teaching it to their children," said Kinard, who is black.

Witnesses reported seeing car windows broken and minor confrontations in the streets throughout the afternoon. Witnesses reported a clash between the two sides before Hale arrived, although police did not confirm it.

State, city and federal authorities provided security, which included blocking off several streets around the library where Hale made his speech. They also frisked people in the crowd for weapons.

Police said 25 people were arrested, most for disorderly conduct, and several guns were confiscated.

After his speech, Hale was whisked away in an unmarked police van.

Hale was supported by Rob Griffin, 27, who said he heads the Peabody, Mass., chapter of the World Church of the Creator. He said he wasn't afraid of the protesters and didn't mind all the police.

Most Hale supporters attending the speech did not wish to give their full names or hometowns.

Hale's group has been accused of helping hone the racist beliefs of a man who went on a shooting rampage in 1999. The gunman, Benjamin Smith, killed two people and wounded nine in Illinois and Indiana before taking his own life. All the victims were Jewish, black or of Asian descent.

Two Hale appearances in Illinois in 2000 ended in violence, with people arrested after each melee.

York was the scene of riots in July 1969 after a black teenager was wounded by a white man. A police officer was killed on the second night of the violence while he rode in an armored car. Four days later, a black woman was slain by shots fired from a white mob as she and her family drove to a grocery store.

Last year, nine white men, including Mayor Charlie Robertson, were charged with the murder of the black woman. Two black men were arrested in October and accused of killing the police officer. Robertson dropped a reelection bid and is awaiting trial.

Hale has said he picked York, a racially mixed town of 41,000 in south-central Pennsylvania, for his appearance because of its high profile in race relations and because Pennsylvania has been a hotbed of racial division.

The library conference room was reserved in November by Michael Cook, director of the World Church's York-area chapter, who told the library that his "church" would be meeting there, officials said. It was only this month that library officials learned that the church was a white supremacist group.

Library officials concluded that canceling the event would not hold up to a legal challenge.

Former City Councilman Ray Crenshaw stayed a few blocks from the library and said he tried to ignore the demonstrations.

"I'm trying my best to act as if it's not happening, because it's a disgrace," said Crenshaw, who is black.

He said he realized the protesters have a constitutional right to demonstrate but believed their racist comments infringed on the rights of others.

"I wouldn't have let them in here in the first place," Crenshaw said. "You have young kids who are scared to death."

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