PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Ku Klux Klan rally became a casualty of the U.S. government shutdown on Tuesday when National Parks officials told the white supremacist group the event would have to be canceled.
The KKK had been granted a permit for what it dubbed a First Amendment demonstration on Saturday at Gettysburg National Military Park, but park officials said it could not take place because all National Parks have been closed.
“Because of the federal government shutdown, Gettysburg National Military Park has rescinded all permits for special events, including the October 5 First Amendment demonstration,” the park said in a statement.
Park officials had previously defended the decision to allow the KKK event, saying the group was entitled to the free speech protections afforded by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“As custodians of land owned by the American people, the National Park Service has a responsibility to make the land available for exercising those rights,” a statement from the parks said.
The KKK has long been associated with hooded, white-robed night riders who menaced blacks with cross burnings, lynchings and other acts of violence.
The U.S. government shut down at midnight when Congress was unable to pass a budget for the new fiscal year because of a standoff between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans over healthcare reform. The shutdown has furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal workers and closed government facilities across the nation.
Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Scott Malone and Andre Grenon