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KKK v. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WORSHIPPERS

April 19, 1990

THE KNIGHTS OF THE KU KLUX KLAN, ETC.
v.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WORSHIPPERS, ET AL.; THOMAS ROBB, ET AL. v. CITY OF PULASKI, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NIXON

 JOHN T. NIXON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Before the Court in docket no. 1-90-0002 is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief brought by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan against a group known as the Giles Countians United (which the Ku Klux Klan has referred to as the "Martin Luther King Jr. Worshippers") and the following individuals: Bettie Higgins, the executive director of the Giles County Chamber of Commerce and board member of the Giles Countians United; James Abernathy, the Superintendent of Schools for Giles County, Tennessee; Hal Stewart, the Mayor of Pulaski, Tennessee; and John Henry Watkins, Raymond E. Rhodes, Jr., Dan Speer, Mitchell Birdsong, Jr., Bill Cheatham, and Johnny Bevill, Aldermen of the City of Pulaski, Tennessee.

 The Court hereby consolidates the action in docket no. 1-90-0002 with the action in docket no. 1-90-0003 concerning the same issues filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the national director and regional representative of the Ku Klux Klan. In docket no. 1-90-0002, the Ku Klux Klan has come before the Court without counsel. In light of the consolidation and the similar identity of the plaintiffs in the two actions, the Court deems plaintiff's counsel of record in 1-90-0003 to have also served as counsel for the Ku Klux Klan in the portion of 1-90-0002 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

 I

 This action arose out of a dispute over the Ku Klux Klan's intention to assemble and parade in the City of Pulaski on January 13, 1990 in protest of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday.

 On August 7, 1989, defendant Bettie Higgins, as executive Director of the Giles County Chamber of Commerce, filed with the City of Pulaski a request to hold a parade in downtown Pulaski from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on January 13, 1990 in "observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King." On August 7, 1989, the City of Pulaski granted the Giles County Chamber of Commerce a permit to hold a parade on January 13, 1990. Between August 7, 1989 and October 17, 1989, Bettie Higgins, on behalf of the Giles County Chamber of Commerce and the Giles Countians United, secured additional parade permits for January 14 and 15, 1990 and a meeting permit for January 12, 1990.

 On October 23, 1989, Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, wrote to defendant Hal Stewart, the Mayor of Pulaski, stating the intent of the Ku Klux Klan to hold its "Homecoming" assembly in Pulaski on January 13, 1990, contending that the Ku Klux Klan's parade permit was "lawfully secured by the fact that such rallies which have traditionally been held on the Saturday before Martin Luther King's National Holiday are now a long standing custom." The Ku Klux Klan had previously protested the holiday by holding "Homecoming" events in Pulaski on January 18, 1986, January 17, 1987, January 16, 1988, and January 14, 1989 pursuant to permits approved by the City of Pulaski.

 On November 2, 1989, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Pulaski passed Ordinance No. 14, 1989, being "An Ordinance Amending Section 12-810 of the Pulaski Municipal Code Regulating Parades." Ordinance 14 provided, inter alia, that a parade permit would be required for "any meeting, parade, demonstration, exhibition or event on the streets of the City of Pulaski"; that the City would only grant one parade permit per month; that permits would be granted to the first applicant for a given date; that permit applications were required to be filed no sooner than 180 days and no later than 45 days prior to the proposed parade date; that permits would not be granted if a conflicting event had already been scheduled; that permits would not be granted if the City anticipated violence; that permits would not be granted to groups that advocated unlawful acts, racial intimidation, or the overthrow of the government; that permits would not be granted for parades of more than 250 marchers; and that marchers were not allowed to wear masks or disguises.

 On November 15, 1989, Thomas Robb, as national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, filed with the City of Pulaski requests for permits to hold parades on January 20, 1990 and February 3, 1990 to "celebrate Klan Homecoming." On November 16, 1989, Robb submitted a request for a permit to hold a parade on January 13, 1990 at 3:00 p.m. "to celebrate Klan Homecoming."

 On November 21, 1989, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Pulaski rejected Robb's request to parade on January 13, 1990 "since another permit has been granted for the requested date." The Board also rejected Robb's request to parade on January 20, 1990 "since another permit has been granted for the month of January." On November 22, 1989, however, the Board granted the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan a permit to parade on February 3, 1990.

 On or before November 11, 1989, the principal of Giles County High School in Pulaski, Tennessee scheduled thirteen games of the Biddy Basketball League to be played at the Giles County High School on January 13, 1990. On or between November 21, 1989 and November 26, 1989, the Ku Klux Klan submitted a request to James Abernathy, Superintendent of Giles County Schools, for the use of the Giles County High School on January 13, 1990. On December 1, 1989, James Abernathy denied the Ku Klux Klan's request to use the High School on the grounds that the High School had already been reserved for January 13, 1990.

 On December 20, 1989, Thomas Robb, as national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, filed with the City of Pulaski a request for a permit to hold a parade on January 13, 1990 from 10:30 a.m. til 12:00 p.m. "to celebrate Klan Homecoming." On January 3, 1990, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Pulaski rejected Robb's second request to ...


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