Virginia Community Braces for Supremacist's Library Appearance

Virginia Community Braces for
Supremacist’s Library Appearance

The Chesterfield (Va.) Board of Supervisors told a packed room of outraged citizens September 18 that it would not bar supremacist John King, Virginia leader of the whites-only World Church of the Creator, from presenting a program in the Chester Library meeting room on September 21. The decision drew tears from resident Wade Runge, who asserted that his interracial marriage made him representative of “the type of people that would be shot and killed by this group.”

Asserting that “racism of any sort will not be tolerated in Chesterfield County,” Supervisor Arthur S. Warren noted that the Constitution can be “both a sword and shield” when it comes to protecting unpopular speech, according to the September 19 Richmond Times-Dispatch. The board had sought the opinion of County Attorney Steven Micas, who warned that WCOTC has prevailed whenever a community tries to block it from making a speech.

World Church founder Matt Hale has spoken at libraries in at least five states within the last two years, usually generating a media stir, counterdemonstrations, and the occasional unsuccessful lawsuit to bar his appearance. His September 14 speech at the Wakefield (Mass.) Public Library meeting room drew some 40 supporters, who heard Hale proclaim, “The World Church of the Creator hates in self-defense.” Some 200 police officers kept WCOTC followers from clashing with several hundred protesters, although four people were arrested for disorderly conduct, the September 15 Boston Globe reported.

Posted September 23, 2002.