LANCASTER, Pa. -- About 60 Ku Klux Klan members marched through downtown Lancaster Saturday to protest the protection of homosexuals under the city's human rights commission.
Police arrested at least five counter-protestors for disdorderly conduct but there wsas no reported violence.
Many of the Klan members wore their familiar white robes and hoods, others were clad in Army fatigues and wore caps displaying Confederate flags. They were surrounded by more than 300 helmeted police officers with nightsticks and shields who separated them from hundreds of hecklers.
The counter-demonstration included a mix of blacks, whites and Hispanics as well as members of homoslexual rights organizations. One group, Queer Nation, sent 30 people from New York in two vans.
'There's a nice sized gay community in Lancaster and we wanted to come down and show our support,' said Queer Nation member Mike Coca.
The 20-minute protest was led by Charles Juba, 19, a local Klan leader. The rest ranged from teenagers to men in their 60s and included several women.
While many shouted 'White Power,' Juba said homosexuals were the main target of the protest. He said the Klan objected to the Lancaster City Council'srecent vote allowing homosexuals and unmarried couples to file discrimination complaints through the city's human relations commission.
Before the Klan rally special services were held at five churches as a counter-statement to the hate marchers.
'We're praying for peace and unity in the city and to say no to the Klan,' said Jonathan Jenkins, associate pastor at Grace Lutheran Church.
Jenkins said a Unity Coalition of religious and community groups hosted a day-long picnic to 'draw people away' from the Klan protest.
Many of the hecklers yelled obscenities at the Klan but others were more restrained.
'They have freedom of speech but so do we,' said Ivan Acosta, 31, who described himself as a Puerto Rican American. 'I want them to see who they hate. I don't hate them but I hate what they stand for.'
About 20 pecent of Lancaster's roughly 60,000 residents are Hispanic and 15 percent are black. The city also has a substantial homosexual community. Earlier this summer a bookstore specializing in homosexual literature, called the Closet, was rocked by two explosions which blew out windows.