National Knights Tangle with Law Enforcement

Ku Klux Klan

The National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan have a knack for knocks with the law. After the group's national leader was charged with telephone harassment in Indiana, two sheriff's deputies were fired for their National Knights membership in Texas.

A May 5 Klan rally organized by National Knights International Imperial Wizard Railton Loy in South Bend, Ind., seemed to be going peacefully despite rowdy protesters.

But after the rally was over and as police escorted the Klan members to their cars, Klansmen could not remember where they parked. In the confusion, a fight with counter-protesters began that resulted in eight arrests, including that of Loy's son, Grand Dragon Richard Loy.

It didn't stop there. Local newspaper coverage of the rally used the elder Loy's real name instead of his preferred alias, Ray Larsen.

After Loy allegedly called a reporter, demanding that she use his alias and asking where she lived, he was charged with misdemeanor telephone harassment.

Then two sheriff's deputies in Williamson County, Texas, were fired on June 19 after they tried to recruit a fellow officer into the National Knights with an application touting "White Supremacy." Deputy David Gay, 44, and Sgt. Greg Palm, 29, had both worked for the sheriff's office for more than four years.

The day they were fired, known as Juneteenth, is the anniversary of the day in 1865 when Texas slaves learned they were free.

The two officers have said they may file a federal lawsuit, alleging infringement of their right to freedom of speech. But courts have previously ruled that membership in a hate group may be legitimate grounds for firing a law enforcement officer.