CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A man wearing Ku Klux Klan clothing was arrested in the small community of Mount Victory, Ohio over the weekend after he threatened a black man with a gun and said he would kill him, police said.
Kevin Allan Gibbs, 22, was arrested Saturday for menacing a witness, a first-degree misdemeanor, after the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call about a group of 10 KKK members -- about eight walking down the street and two driving in a car with a video camera.
Kenneth Ratleff, 46, the black man who was allegedly threatened, told Reuters Wednesday his 97-year-old grandmother lives on the street where the group in KKK clothes was walking and that the population of the area is mainly “elderly black folks and children.”
“They were dressed up in their outfits just walking down the street,” Ratleff said. “I think they just picked this community because they felt there wouldn’t be a lot of resistance.”
According to police records, Gibbs lives in Hamilton, Ohio near Cincinnati, some 100 miles from the village of Mount Victory. According to the 2010 Census, 98 percent of Mount Victory’s population of 1,721 is white.
Ratleff told Reuters he wished he had not walked up to the group and said he thinks the man who pulled the gun on him might be “a low-functioning adult” and that he was being used by the group to create a conflict.
“My heart goes out to him,” said Ratleff, who works with behavioral-challenged children. “These are the type of people these groups target. It is sad that they put the gun on him.”
There were no injuries and only one arrest. The suspect is due in court April 2.
Ratleff said that last month’s controversial killing of a black teen, Trayvon Martin, by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida may have been in the back of his mind when he saw the group walk down the street. “It bears on your heart. They have a right to protest but the image that they bring to the community is unwanted,” Ratleff said.
Reporting By Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski