MADISON, Ind. — A so-called “kookout” Saturday afternoon attracted about a dozen Ku Klux Klan members and a few hundred protesters to a park on the Ohio River.
The event in the city of about 12,000 residents unfolded without any major physical confrontation. In part, this was because police lined up between the two groups and used a chain link fence to section off the shelter under which the klansmen were camped out in.
None of the infamous hoods the hate group is known for were present during the rally, but many of the people standing on the KKK side of the fence covered their faces with bandanas and realtree camouflage ski masks. The klansmen had a microphone and shouted slurs. They were handily drowned out by the volume of the protesters, whose printable shouts varied from “Black lives matter” to “Go home Nazis.”
“I want them to know they’re not welcome in our state,” said Jackie Daniels, a social worker who until recently, directed IU’s OASIS program.
Daniels and her husband — who sported pink camouflage cargo pants — came down from Bloomington with two carfulls of allies and met others when they arrived in Madison, she said.
“It’s actually a date that we’re on,” Daniels joked. “We’re on a date to protest the Klan.”
Apart from the line of law enforcement who stood along the barriers between klansmen and protesters, the heavy police presence included local officers, sheriffs deputies and Indiana State Police. Some of the latter monitored the area from above on the Milton-Madison Bridge, which spans the river.
A mad dash ensued every time the klan members approached the fence. When this wasn’t happening, the protesters alternated between taunting the small group and ignoring them. Some of the protesters even treated them like a joke, making jokes about the level of seasoning on their food, despite the group’s violent past.
Though all the protesters came to show the klansmen they were not welcome, arguments ensued between those on their side of the line.
Will Whitehouse, who sported a Make America Great Again hat, said when he initially showed up, some protesters asked him why he wasn’t on the KKK side of the fence.
Whitehouse said he didn’t think it was fair to lump the president’s supporters in with the KKK.
At a recent rally in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, calling for the abolishment of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, he said, the klan tried to stand with his group, which was there to show their support for the agency.
He said they kicked the hate group members out and told them, “Do it on your own side.”
“I decided I wanted to come up here and make a statement,” Whitehouse said. “I’m here standing with antifa.”
Antifa is an umbrella term which describes far-left anti-fascist activists who resist white supremacists and others at rallies.
Whitehouse added that though he was opposed to antifa’s message, he was willing to stand alongside them to show his opposition to the hate group on the other side of the fence.
Whitehouse conversed with protesters toward the end of the event. He said once he moved closer to the crowd, conversations became more civil.
“I’m here to say this on my head,” he could be overheard telling protesters, pointing at his hat. “Does not mean I’m one of them.”
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