ALEXANDRIA, La. — A Louisiana civil rights leader says the segregationist Nationalist Movement should be allowed to march in the town of Jena on Martin Luther King Day but he stressed that he is opposed to the group's message.
"We are coming here today in a unified effort to say in one voice that racism and bigotry won't be tolerated here," the Rev. Raymond Brown said during a Tuesday morning news conference on the steps of the federal courthouse in Alexandria.
"They can march, but we are opposed to their reasons for marching and their ideologies," Brown said.
Brown, with Louisiana's chapter of the National Action Network, was joined Tuesday by other civil rights leaders to oppose the message the Nationalists are trying to spread.
The Nationalists plan a "Jena Justice Day" rally in response to the more than 20,000 who rallied Sept. 20, supporting six Black teens who have become known as the "Jena Six." The teenagers were initially charged with attempted murder of a White student who was attacked at Jena High. All charges have since been reduced to aggravated second-degree battery or second-degree battery.
But a possible roadblock to the march comes in the form of a Jena ordinance. The Nationalists have filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance requiring a $10,000 bond, along with a change in the parade route and a ban on firearms.
The group wants to hold the rally and march on the day celebrating the slain civil rights leader, partly in protest of what King stands for, said Nationalists' attorney and member Richard Barrett, and also in response to the more than 20,000 people who rallied in Jena on Sept. 20 in support of the "Jena Six."
Barrett said the Nationalists tried to get a bond from several bonding agents but were refused.
The Rev. B.L. Moran of Jena's Antioch Baptist Church said events that normally make up the MLK Day celebrations in Jena will be held the day before so there will be no interruptions from the Nationalists' events. There still will be events going on that Monday, Moran said, to show support for King and to provide a positive alternative to what Moran called the Nationalists' hateful activities.
-- The Associated Press