HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - Ku Klux Klan robes sold for up to $1,425 and
a KKK knife drew a $400 bid Saturday during an auction of KKK
paraphernalia that critics have blasted as insensitive.
Auctioneer Gary Gray said a steady stream of people visited the
auction house in Howell, about 55 miles west of Detroit, in the
hours leading up to the sale, where participants could bid on seven
KKK robes and items including buttons, books, movies and a lantern.
"Maybe I have taught more people about history, at least this
week, than some schools," Gray said. "It's not a question of racism.
That's intertwined. But it's not the main focus."
One of the robes was bought for $700 by the Jim Crow Museum of
Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. Museum
officials hope to use it to teach tolerance.
felt like I was at a Klan rally at some times," museum curator David
|(AP) A Ku Klux Klan robe, held by an
unidentified employee, center, of auctioneer Gary
Other robes sold for $1,425 and $1,150. Many of the people who
bought items did not give their names. One person was seen wearing a
KKK pin, and another wore an arm band with a Nazi swastika.
About 10 protesters gathered outside the auction house, holding
signs that read, "Hate has no home here." Some tried to enter the
house, chanting "No Nazis, no KKK," as about 200 people crowded into
"People say it's historical, but it shouldn't be something we
have to remember every day," protester Michelle Soli said.
The NAACP branch in neighboring Oakland County and other civil
rights groups have criticized the auction as insensitive. Members of
a local diversity council were raising money to buy one of the robes
for an anti-racism museum exhibit.
Gowlan, who attended the auction, said he planned to bid on KKK
literature and pamphlets, but said he wasn't a supporter of the
|(AP) An unidentified man, center, jokes
with his friend about an anti-fascist protestor
waving a flag at...|
"If we as a society don't learn from past mistakes, we repeat
them," Gowlan said.
Community and business groups said the auction would do nothing
to fix the town's racist reputation, which they trace to one man -
Robert Miles, a KKK leader who lived on a farm outside Howell until
his death in 1992.
The auction was originally scheduled for Jan. 15, but was delayed
after Gray learned that was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s
After one robe was consigned for sale in early January, dozens of
other items poured into the Gray's gallery because of the publicity.
Howell is a city of more than 9,000 people in Livingston County,
one of Michigan's least diverse counties. In Howell itself, only 29
blacks were counted in the 2000 census.
Outside the auction, Howell Mayor Geraldine Moen was among the
protesters. She said the auction reignited stereotypes about the
community. "Hate and its symbols do not belong in Howell," she said.