Desloge City Officals Battle KKK Over Leaflets

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DESLOGE, MO. (KTVI) - The Ku Klux Klan is waiting to find out if an ordinance prohibiting the white supremacist group from leafleting on the streets of Desloge, Mo will hold up in court.

The ACLU represents the Klan and had already won a recent dispute with the city.  A federal judge ruled that a previous ordinance banning anyone from handing out flyers on a city street would likely be unconstitutional.

Desloge city administrator Greg Camp says the city passed a new ordinance that is more specific about defining what a street is.  He says the city has hired outside legal help and believes the new ordinance will hold up in court.

The city has until Monday, May 6th to respond the ACLU`s complaint that the new ordinance is essentially an end run around the previous ruling.

"To say that we`re trying to do an end around on the ACLU or the judge's ruling I think is wrong," said Camp.

He said this is not a case about 1st amendment rights.

"The concern is for people being in the road," said Camp.   He says safety is the reason behind the ordinance.  Camp adds that the city respects everyone`s right to express their views.  He feels it`s just not safe to hand out flyers on a street.

The ACLU believes the new ordinance is still too broad and blankets 1st amendment rights.

"The Supreme Court has long held that handing out leaflets, which is one of the basic things that the founding fathers did. is protected speech and streets and sidewalks are the main place where you can do that," said Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU`s Eastern District in Missouri.

Rothert added that the ACLU does not agree with the KKK`s message, "But we think it's important for all Americans that they be able to distribute literature to get their ideas out in peaceful ways and let the market place of ideas debate who's right."

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