CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (CN) – The Ku Klux Klan, represented by the ACLU, sued the City of Cape Girardeau, Mo., for the right to distribute its racist literature.
The Klan claims in Federal Court that it wants to distribute handbills in Cape Girardeau on Sept. 28, but the city “maintains an ordinance … which criminalizes [the Klan’s] planned expressive conduct.”
Cape Girardeau, a Mississippi River town of 38,400, is 115 miles south of St. Louis.
“Plaintiff Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (‘TAK’), is an unincorporated association of individuals,” the complaint states. “TAK describes itself as ‘a White Patriotic Christian organization that bases its roots back to the Ku Klux Klan of the early 20th century.’ According to TAK, it is ‘a non-violent organization that believes in the preservation of the white race and the United States Constitution as it was originally written and will stand to protect those rights against all foreign invaders.'”
The Klan says it wants to “spread (its) message widely.”
“One effective and efficient way plaintiffs have found to spread their message is by distributing handbills on the windshields of vehicles parked on public streets. They have done so throughout the country and in Missouri, including in the City
of Park Hills, the City of Desloge, the City of Farmington, and the City of Leadwood.”
But a Cape Girardeau ordinance “mandates that, No person shall throw or deposit any handbill in or upon any vehicle; provided, however, that it shall not be unlawful in any public place for a person to hand out or distribute a handbill to any occupant of a vehicle who is willing to accept it,'” the Klan says in its complaint.
It claims that ordinance is unconstitutional.
“Section 22-82 suppresses considerably more speech than is necessary to serve any significant government interest,” the Klan says.
It seeks declaratory judgment and an injunction.
It is represented by Anthony Rothert with the ACLU’s St. Louis office.
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