Klan Booted From Highway Cleanup

ByABC News
April 5, 2001, 1:35 PM

April 5 -- A month after the U.S. Supreme Court said Missouri must allow the Ku Klux Klan to take part in an "Adopt-A-Highway" cleanup program, the state has kicked out the group, citing its failure to collect roadside litter.

"Groups are required to pick up litter four times a year in this program, and our records indicated that the Klan had not fulfilled their adoption agreement," said Missouri Department of Transportation spokeswoman Megan Casalone today. "They have never picked up anything off the highway."

Casalone said the Klan had until last Tuesday to respond to a March 20 letter informing the group it was not complying with the program rules. The KKK did not respond, she said.

Missouri's battle with the Ku Klux Klan began in 1994 when an official with the Missouri organization of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, filed an application asking that the group be included in the Adopt-A-Highway program, which calls for organizations to clean up roadsides in return for signage that publicly acknowledges the group's participation.

Requested Route for Black School Children

The white supremacist organization requested a half-mile stretch of Interstate 55, one of the routes used to bus black students to county schools as part of court-ordered desegregation efforts in the St. Louis area.

Missouri denied the request, citing the group's racist beliefs, and alleging it violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws, and had a history of violence. The Klan's membership excludes anyone who is black, Jewish, Mexican or Asian.

But the Klan successfully challenged the state's denial in court, saying the state was violating the group's constitutional rights, and forcing Missouri to designate a mile-long stretch to the Klan in late 1999 as the state pursued appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Missouri's appeal on March 5.

MDOT spokesman Chris Sutton said the state could have kicked the Klan out of the program much earlier because of its lack of effort to clean up the side of the highway as required. But it waited until all court appeals were exhausted, he said.