One side of flier inviting people to "Gigantic Cross Burning" in Soledad Canyon, September 17, 1966. Click each image to enlarge.
William V. Fowler, Grand Cyclops (leader) of the California Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, organized a "reactivation rally" in Soledad Canyon on September 17, 1966. Fowler sought to reactivate the KKK in California, where it had been legally barred from operating since 1946.
Fowler, a La Crescenta car salesman and minister of a "segretationist" church in Lancaster, promised a turnout of 5,000 to 10,000 "knights" and a cross burning — but delivered only 30 to 100 followers, depending on the news source, and a cross decorated with red Christmas lights that took an hour to illuminate because his partisans couldn't get the generator to work. Once they got going, the speakers railed against everything from President Johnson's civil rights record to the fluoridation of the water supply and similar decidedly communist plots.
At first, nobody, including the U.S. Forest Service, was quite clear on who owned the land at the bottom of Capra Road where the rally was held. One of Fowler's former co-workers in auto sales was only too happy to let the bigot rent the property for the evening. When word of the co-worker's collusion in the upcoming rally spread, he was fired from his job and evicted from his home. (It's unclear, but the co-worker may have been squatting on the property. In any event, he didn't own it.)
As best anyone could figure, the actual rally site was Forest Service property. The Forest Service had issued a permit to the next-door-neighbor landowner, allowing him to plant an orchard there. After the rally, the Forest Service revoked the permit. The official reason was that the permit didn't allow rallies, but there is evidence the permittee opposed the rally. After all, he probably didn't want to attract attention. He wasn't farming; he was mining on forest land without a mining permit.
Rally in Soledad Canyon, September 17, 1966. Wearing the hoods are (from left) Rev. William V. Fowler of La Crescenta; Rev. Thomas J. Warren of Lancaster; unidentified.
Just one person was arrested at the rally: an armed man who, claiming to be the "mining partner" of the supposed orchard farmer, sought to stop the rally from taking place by blocking Capra Road with his truck. He was arrested for assaulting a peace officer when he mistook a plain-clothed deputy for a KKK agitator.
(For his part, Fowler would land in jail on a battery charge stemming from another rally a short time later.)
KPFK Pacifica Radio, a pacifist (and anti-Klan) station in Los Angeles, broadcast the Soledad Canyon rally. The half-hour broadcast can be heard [here]. Be warned: The content is patently offensive.
It should be noted that the euphemism, "n-word," wasn't invented until 1995, by news stations covering the O.J. Simpson trial. Thus, the local news coverage from 1966 uses the actual n-word in direct quotes. In the transcript below, we have replaced all occurrences with "[n-word]" in brackets. The original reporting can be seen in the images of the news articles which, except for the layout, are unaltered.
Targeted with their invectives, the revered Signal editorialist Scott Newhall confronted the hooded cowards in person. "I hereby wish to state that, no matter how trivial, this was a profane and disgraceful episode in the history of our valley," he later summarized.
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Thursday, September 1, 1966.
The general location of the Ku Klux Klan's "Gigantic Cross Burning" on the evening of September 17 is shown on a map in a flyer distributed by the Klan.
It will be held at Soledad Canyon Road and Capra Road, near Acton.
The flyer proclaims: "There will be two main speakers, one very well known throughout the South, the other the best crusader for our race on the West Coast. All White Christians are welcome."
Other side of flier. A KKK slogan, "Non Silba Sed Anthar" is a nonsensical combination of Latin and Gothic intended to mean, "Not for one's self, but for others."
The names of the speakers were not revealed.
Captain George Teilch of the Newhall Sheriff's department said: "They have a right to meet and hear their speakers. But they're not going to be allowed to burn a cross — or anything else. It's against burning rules."
Information chairman for the KKK meeting was listed as Rev. William V. Fowler, Box 312, La Crescenta. The Rev. Fowler could not be reached by telephone.
'Church Picnic' Ruins Unwary Saugus Man
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Thursday, September 15, 1966.
A local man who signed a lease with the Ku Klux Klan permitting them to use property in the Saugus area for their rally Saturday night is apparently on the verge of ruin, The Signal learned Tuesday.
Gerald Broderson, who was employed as car salesman with a dealer in the Los Angeles area, told The Signal that he had "unknowingly" leased the property to the Klan when he signed an agreement with Reverend William Fowler several months ago.
According to Broderson, he was approached by Fowler who requested permission to use the property "for a church gathering and picnic." He said that he had met Fowler previously when both of them had been employed as salesmen at the automobile agency.
"I knew he was a reverend with some church," Broderson stated, "and when he wanted this area to use for his church, I wasn't even suspicious."
Broderson apparently signed a contract with Fowler, and accepted the payment of $1.00 as rent for the one-night "get-together."
"I didn't even read the contract," he recalled. "The next thing I knew, I saw all these stories in the papers about this Ku Klux Klan rally in the area, and realized that this was on the same property."
"After the people found out where the rally was going to be held, they thought that I was responsible, and many groups began calling my employer. Finally, last week, I was fired from my job."
The ironic twist to the whole affair is that Broderson does not either own or lease the property on which the Ku Klux Klan plans to hold their meeting.
"The property is owned by the forest service," Broderson claimed. "I have talked it over with them, but they are hesitant about interfering with the 'right of assembly' of the group."
"Last week, I sent a registered letter to Reverend Fowler to explain that I could not let him use the property, but I have not received a reply. I even sent him his money back."
The Signal reached Reverend Fowler by telephone on Tuesday, and asked him about the strange arrangement. He confirmed the fact that he approached Broderson several months ago about the rally, but stated that the contract which Broderson signed gave the full name of the Ku Klux Klan.
"I really don't know if Gerry (Broderson) read it carefully, but he certainly should have. He is not a member of the Klan, and I don't think he knew that I was a member.
Fowler stated that the contract gave the Klan the right to use more than 1,000 acres of land in their Saturday night meeting. "As far as I'm concerned, it's legal, and that's that," he stated.
Fowler went on to explain that he was a "Reverend" with the Covenant Church of Jesus Christ, which he described as a "segregationist church for white Christians."
He expected between 5,000 and 10,000 Klan members at the meeting, and had a full program scheduled. "We will have three speakers in all, along with a band. The meeting will open with an invocation, followed by music and singing, the National Anthem, and then the speakers.
"One hundred top members of the Klan will be present, wearing masks. Only ten of us will not be wearing masks, during the ceremonies.
"We are working closely with the sheriff's department to make sure that no trouble starts. We want this to be peaceful." [Note: In fact, Fowler tried and failed to obtain a court order to block law enforcement from being present. See below.]
"I feel sorry for Broderson if he is blamed or implicated in this, because he is not a member. But he should have known what he was signing when he let us use his property," Fowler stated.
"I haven't received any letter from him asking us not to use this area. But I've been awfully busy and haven't seen all my mail. Anyway, it would be too late for him to change his mind now," the Reverend concluded.
In the meantime, Gerald Broderson has lost his job, and has been told that he will have to move out of the area by his landlord. And he claims this all started with a "church picnic" and $1.00.
Los Angeles Times | September 16, 1966.
A Ku Klux Kian request for a restraining order which would keep police away from a Klan meeting in Saugus Saturday was denied by a federal district judge. KKK spokesman William V. Fowler contended that law agencies "threatened to disrupt, disturb and prevent" the rally, but Judge A. Andrew Hauk said there was no evidence to support Fowler's charges.
Klansmen in a Minority
at 'Rebirth' Rally
Los Angeles Times | September 18, 1966.
A "reactivation rally" for the Ku Klux Klan in California attracted more policemen, newsmen and protestors than Klan members Saturday night at a remote ranch in Saugus.
Three white-hooded klansmen, accompanied by about 100 followers and spectators, opened the meeting on a triangle of sand in the river bed of Soledad Canyon.
Surrounding the area were more than 100 reporters and about 150 deputy sheriffs, highway patrolmen and investigators for the state attorney general's office.
A man who leased the meeting place for the Klan was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after he pulled a gun on a deputy sheriff and tried to jump on the officer's back, deputies said. [Incorrect: He wasn't the organizer; he was trying to stop the rally — Ed.] This was the only violence reported.
Shortly before the start of the rally, 150 pickets from the Pacoima Congregational Church paraded up Soedad Canyon Road carrying signs protesting the meeting.
At 7 p.m. klansmen tried to start the portable gasoline generator which was to provide electricity for their flameless cross, which was strung with electric lights, and to power the public address system.
While they tinkered with the machine, several members of the group began shouting "white power" and exchanging jibes with the newsmen.
William V. Fowler, organizer of the rally, then arrived in white robe and hood and began working on the generator himself so that the meeting could start. He was guarded by four Klan riflemen.
One hour after the meeting was scheduled to start, the generator finally sputtered to life and the bulbs on the cross began to glow. Forest service rules prohibit a burning cross.
Thomas Peter Regas, 36, of 2805 Woodsline Road, Hollywood, was arrested after he scuffled with Sheriff's Sgt. Marty Derieo who was trying to get Regis to move a truck blocking the access road.
Photo caption reads: The grand entrance of self-styled Cyclops of the California Knights
of the Ku Klux Klan, Rev. William V. Fowler, added little spark to Saturday night's Klan rally
which turned out to be a confused flop.
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Thursday, September 22, 1966.
They said there would be a gigantic cross burning, those knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Their leader, known to non-knights as the Rev. William Fowler, and to knights as Bill, saw to it that this gigantic conflagration got county-wide publicity.
So to the curving sand sheeted bed of the Santa Clara River sunk in the mountainous walls of Soledad Canyon they come — scores of newsmen and police and spectators, and about 20 Klansmen as near as anyone could tell.
Some came early for the rally that was supposed to have started at 7 p.m. Saturday night. An hour and a half before starting time, there were only a handful of interested parties on the scene, most of them newsmen, a few of them deputies from the county sheriff's department, and some of them Klansmen, wearing work clothes and hugging firearms strapped to their sides.
On the way to the rally site the first signs of interest in the affair were noticeable at River's End, where there were some sheriff's cars and where a number of what appeared to be protestors of the rally were mapping their strategies for what might turn out to be a night of terror and exploded lunacy.
At Capra Road, a county owned street, which sloped precariously down into the slightly eerie depths of the canyon to the rally site, there were a few more sheriff's cars, and a slim man wearing western styled clothes and clutching a gun-metal gray walkie talkie.
"All white Christians are welcome," he said cordially, but smiling suspiciously. And cars were directed down narrow Capra Road to the bottom of the punchbowl terrain, across the railroad tracks and along a dusty one-laned drive to a weed-blanketed parking area.
During the hours of deepening dusk a sheriff's department helicopter sputtered back and forth over the area, and atop a nearby peak another chopper rested, its rotor props drooping.
About 300 yards from the railroad tracks, which run through a small hillside tunnel across the sandy, beachlike riverbottom, and below the sheer sides of a mountain punctured by mine entrances at its base, was the KKK's cross, a wobbly looking 20-foot-high structure behind a pile of rocks arranged to serve as a lectern.
In another direction atop a mid-canyon bluff sat two helmeted men of the U.S. Forest Service, and later several sheriff's officers ampled the rough plateau's rush to take their position of vigilance. Newhall sheriff's captain George Tielsch used the vantage point to direct the department's 100 men in their surveillance of the scene.
Shortly after 6, as a television news camera crew was unloading its equipment, a cameraman accidently dropped a component and a small puff of smoke erupted in the dry watershed shrubbery. Somebody yelled to the Forest Service watchdog: "Hey! here's your first fire," and the pair ran quickly to the scene to watch the smoke dwindle and die while a sheriff's deputy aimed a portable fire extinguisher at the black leather case.
Above the rally site, along Soledad Canyon road, a group peacefully protested the violent anti-racist [sic] philosophies of the KKK by lining themselves along the roadway. They had come from a Congregational church in Pacoima and, calling themselves the witnesses for [illegible], each carried a placard, crying: "KKK Racism No!"
By 7 p.m., when the rally was supposed to have begun, there were about 80-100 people milling about the "altar" as some referred to it. Most of those on the scene were newsmen and a few were spectators or Klan sympathizers.
The plans for a gigantic cross burning had been snuffed by the U.S. Forest Service who feared the fire hazard in the area of government-owned lands. The Knights had settled on having their cross, dotted with red Christmas tree lights, blaze with electricity. But the power failed. A small old generator they had placed off to one side of their rally perch wouldn't start.
"We done been sabotaged by some [n-word]," a lean shabbily dressed man told a Signal reporter. "Some [n-word] bastahd pulled our ignition cord out," he declared.
So darkness fell on the deep canyon, and disappointment crept in on the crowd of race warmongers and the media men who'd come to watch them. The rest of the evening ended up as a sickly humorous effort on the part of the Klan's knights to keep their effectively publicized promise.
The crowd of Klan sympathizers varied widely in appearance. Some wore work clothes, some were dressed neatly and in nearly "mod" styles. They had in common an interest to bring life to an otherwise death-stricken rally. Some tried to start rallies of their own crying, "Kill [n-word], hate [n-word]," and an occasional chant of "White power" could be heard hoarsely spreading throughout the audience. Their leader, Rev. Fowler, had not yet arrived.
During one such verbal outcry a little 9-year-old girl carrying and fumbling with a Confederate flag yelled conspicuously, "Down with [n-word]!" She turned to her father, a native of Tennessee, and pulling at his coat said, "Daddy, daddy, I said 'Down with [n-word].'" The man patted his daughter tenderly on the hand.
Across the riverbed a man, his wife and small daughter, about four years old, engaged in a rock throwing contest to while the time away in anticipation of cyclops Fowler's entrance.
Before the canyon gouge was cloaked by darkness Captain Tielsch had ordered a trooplike procession of Sheriff's deputies down Capra Road.
The deputies, among them 11 negroes, stopped short of entering the rally site, and organized in a formation about 200 yards away, below the bluff top of their commander's vantage point.
The harried klansmen feverishly grappled with their small gas-operated generator as deep darkness closed in. The helicopters ceased their hawklike excursions overhead; the crowd grew more restless.
Finally Fowler arrived. He strode vigorously across the sands of the river bed as a stampede of news photographers vied for shooting positions. One of them said, "Man, that guy walks fast."
Fowler, dressed in a full length white gown, a hood, red sash and wearing a pistol, was accompanied by two rifle-carrying guards. One of them was young and obviously nervous about his duty post. Earlier there were rumors that the only two reporting teams that would be allowed into the area were to have been KNXT News (Channel Two) and Life magazine because they paid stipends to Fowler for coverage of the event. One Klansman complained to another about the crowd of newsman on the scene, saying, "I thought only Channel Two was supposed to be here."
As it turned out the newsmen were a blessing to the KKK Rally, for in the pitch darkness of the night, the only lights which illuminated the affair, while the generator was under repair, turned out to be the flash cameras of the journalists, hungry for some sort of excitement.
When Fowler arrived, the little four-year-old girl who had been throwing rocks with her father was cued to clap.
One Klansman called for a four wheel drive vehicle to help solve the electrical failure that had kept the meeting from formally starting. The four wheel drive autos were needed to traverse the sandy riverbottom. Two Jeeps rushed to the scene of the generator, and finally a pickup truck was used to get the machine going.
The jeeps were directed up the small hill where the lectern was located, and parked at acute angles so that their headlight beams shadowed Fowler's pink-complected, cheeky and youthful face as he spoke.
Fowler's impassioned speech of hatred served to stir little enthusiasm among the crowd of 30 or so followers. Aside from such sadly stock responses as, "Get them [n-word] ... hate them communist kike Catholic [n-word] ... them cops is [n-word] lovers ... hooray for white power ... hooray for moonshine...hooray for Alabama..." and chants of "white power, white power, white power," there was little unexpected rage among the Klan's supporters.
Fowler's speech was difficult to listen to. It was rife with such worn cliches as, "If we don't stop the [n-word] now, we ain't gonna be able to stop 'em." Fowler said that Jesus Christ was the first Klansman. He warned that Caucasian girls aren't safe on the streets of Los Angeles because of negroes.
The self-proclaimed cyclops of the California Knights of the KKK lashed out at Governor Brown, calling him a "communist kike lover and [n-word] lover." He cried out bitterness at Attorney General Thomas Lynch for his "[n-word] lovin' "policies in relation to the Proposition 14 issue." Fowler screamed, hoarsely, at an illusionary Lynch: "We will get rough if you want it that way." Then as an aside to his followers: "That boy (meaning Lynch) should get hung by his toes."
During Fowler's crazed, stereotyped outrage, various photographers tried to move up the loose dirt toward the cyclops' platform but were sternly turned back by rifle-toting guards or another Klansman who tossed shovels full of dirt at them.
The cyclops then turned his scorn toward the sheriff's officers placidly standing in the far-off darkness. "Those [n-word] lovin' cops broke their agreement," he howled. "They blocked the road off two hours ago, and they's good white citizens up there (on Soledad Canyon Road) just cryin' to get down here and join their brothahs." Some in the crowd yelled, "Them sheriff's are [n-word]," and others screeched, "Them cops gots [n-word], let's get them [n-word] cops." Fowler wailed, "Why, if I was a sheriff I'd be ashamed to wear my badge tonight. I'd take my badge off and throw it away. Let's hear it from those people on the hill. Let's hear it for the white man," he screeched.
His appeal could not be heard over the loudspeakers on the lofty main road. There was complete silence when the cyclops, his face tense and beaded with sweat, paused to give them time to answer.
The sheriff's department under the command of Tielsch, had blocked Capra Road off shortly after 8 p.m. because of the tension and potentially dangerous situation in the crowd.
The sheriff's department earlier had said they wouldn't interfere in any way with the rally as long as it proceeded peacefully. Captain Tielsch said after the Saturday night meeting: "Our duty is to protect people, and when things began to look like they were getting rough down there, I felt it best to close the road off." The road remained closed for approximately 45 minutes.
Following Fowler's speech, during which the spindly-looking cross lights burned in intervals of brightness and dimness, country style Klan recordings were blared over the loud speaker As the generator slowed, during one number the vocalist's voice dropped to a froggish moan.
When cyclops Fowler had finished his speech, most of the newsmen left the scene. So did the majority of spectators who thought the rally was over. Even the sheriff's department, having received word that the meeting was at an end, pulled its men out of the punchbowl's depths. But the rally wasn't over.
As many left, many arrived who had so far witnessed the farcical affair from the ledge-loft of Soledad Canyon Road. Most of the newcomers were teenagers, and one youth was heard saying to another: "Where's the beer?" Somebody else called out, "It's over there," and a throng of the teenagers clocked toward a gangly youth carrying a cardboard box.
As the newcomers arrived the cyclops, in his long white gown and red sash, launched into another racist attack, denouncing Governor Brown's administration and Jews.
A youth, unable to contain himself, called out, "What's wrong with the Jews?" Fowler said: "There's a Jew! What are we going to do about it?" Somebody else cried: "Get the Jew! Kill the Jew! Shoot his Jew mouth off."
Fowler, who looked like a man who was determined to keep his promise of violence against ethnic groups from sounding hollow, rushed swiftly down the hill toward Edward Bernard, 18 of Granada Hills. Bernard was pushed to the ground and struck with sticks and stones before he managed to scurry to safety.
Fowler moved back up to his cyclops roost and once again levelled his verbal assault. But somebody pointed out to him that a sheriffs plain-clothesman and deputies were about to close in on the meeting. Fowler yelled, "Get them [n-word] lovin's cops. Get 'em now."
As the Klansmen, like conditioned animals in a stockyard, turned to seek out their prey, Fowler, the Reverend William Fowler, grand cyclops of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, took off his robe, threw it in a nearby jeep and yelled to those standing about: "Get your ass out of here." Fowler disappeared into the bushes in the darkness of night.
Only 1 Man Arrested at Rally
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Thursday, September 22, 1966.
Despite pushing, shoving and verbal assaults, Saturday night's Ku Klux Klan rally was fairly peaceful.
Only one man was arrested by sheriff's deputies during the evening. He is Thomas Regas of Hollywood, who is the mining partner of Charles Lambert [sic; Antone Lambert], supposed owner of the property on which the rally was held. Regas had worked closely with authorities to try to find a way to keep the Klan rally from being staged.
Saturday Regas parked his car diagonally across Capra Road, the entrance to the deep Soledad Canyon punchbowl area where the rally was held. A plain clothesman sheriff's deputy made his way toward Regas' car to investigate his action.
According to the deputy, Regas was brandishing a .357 caliber pistol and he told a man who approached him to "Get off my property." He also told the deputy to clear out and pointed the gun at the deputy's chest and head.
But Regas lowered his handgun when the deputy acted as if he was walking away from it all, and it was at this point that the officer, an ex-boxer, threw a hefty left hook at Regas and knocked him down.
Unconscious for a few seconds, Regas was taken to Santa Clarita Hospital in Saugus. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but the sheriff's department Monday decided to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor — displaying a firearm in a threatening manner.
Klan's Mockery of Jesus Christ
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Thursday, September 22, 1966.
To begin with let us quote from The Signal's editorial remarks of Thursday, September 8.
"Every American citizen, whether he be a member of the KKK or not, has the right peaceably to express his own opinions on any matter under the sun. And, in keeping with this great and precious American principle, the Klan should be received in our Valley with no hostility.
Their assembly complies with all State and County regulations governing public gatherings; and
Provided that they celebrate their own peculiar rituals with proper decorum, and in no way molest or threaten any other American citizen."
Top: Scott Newhall (center-left) and son Skip Newhall (center-right) exchange words with Klansmen at the rally, September 17, 1966. Bottom: Scott Newhall at left.
The bottom photo was published with Scott's obituary in The Signal, October 27, 1992; the top photo appeared with a subsequent retrospective November 1, 1992. Click to enlarge.
Well, in case you don't already know it, the little band of slack-jawed, wild-eyed or utterly ignorant fanatics who staged their pathetic little rally up Soledad Canyon last Saturday night behaved in such a hateful way as to be almost beyond description.
The frightened troop of self-annointed Klansmen who screamed and shouted that they were "the master race" were for hours even unable to start up their small gasoline-driven generator in order to light up the slim white cross alongside the crude fieldstone "altar."
In a panicky attempt to overcome the dullness and boredom of the affair, the "Reverend" Grand Cyclops and his disciples attempted to whip up their thinning audience into some sort of frenzy of hate.
"Let's lynch Lynch!" someone shouted. (He was referring to the attorney general of the State of California, Thomas Lynch.)
"Let's get that coon Governor out of Sacramento!" cane a moronic shout from a robed figure at the "altar."
A robed figure strolled in front of the "altar" and shouted: "All right fellows — if you can't find any [n-word] here go get 'em!"
The high-school dropouts near the unlighted cross and who were acting as a body guard of some sort, caressed their weapons with a Freudian embrace.
Then — "All right everyone, let's hear a cheer for Alabama," came the cry, and a few synthetic fabric Confederate flags were waved by the womenfolk as a ragged cheer arose.
Next — "Okay fellows, let's hear a good yell for Mississippi!"
And again the same pathetic, desperate and futile demonstration. One young, obviously underendowed disciple hugged his deer rifle and declared to the world at large, "I'm a'goin to take this here Thirty Ought Six and go down to Watts and get me a coon." Another brief infantile cheer.
And on, and on, and on.
I hereby wish to state that, no matter how trivial, this was a profane and disgraceful episode in the history of our valley.
When the self-appointed "Reverend" Fowler invokes the name of our blessed Saviour and preaches a paranoid sermon of hate against his fellow man, he is guilty of a sacrilege. When, in the name of our Saviour, he proclaims himself and his fellow, so-called "white men" as the world's "master race," the "Reverend" Fowler is preaching the gospel of Satan.
I detest and protest this mockery of the life and spirit of Jesus Christ. The Saviour whose creed I was taught, was a soul dedicated to such noble and eternal concepts as gentleness, compassion, love of one's fellow man — and above all — to peace. He willingly and bravely sacrificed His own life, to become one of the world's greatest symbols of man's faith in generosity, forgiveness and honesty.
The "Reverend" Fowler's vile mockery of our Redeemer will ultimately destroy him.
In closing, I might add that a number of the Ku Klux Klan congregation of the "Reverend" Fowler amused themselves by publicly describing the writer of these paragraphs with shouts of "white [n-word]," and "a Jew, coon lover" and other shameful cries. At one point they were screaming for some rope so that they could ''string up that dirty Jew-[n-word]."
Well — I'm available. Any Klansman can reach me at The Signal any day at his own convenience or pleasure.
'Use' Permit Revoked on Rally Site
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Sunday, September 25, 1966.
The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan may have known their purpose in meeting last Saturday night but they did not know the owner of the property on which they met.
What's more, apparently no one knew the owner of the land where Rev. William Fowler's small band made their bid to re-create a California wing of the white-robed organization.
Fowler and his sympathizers originally signed what they thought to be a legal lease on property to the east of the final site of the rally. This property had been bought previously from the Forest Service. [Note: The private property was homesteaded in 1932 by Demetrios "Jim" Lambert, nee Lambropolos, the late brother of the 1966 owner — Ed.]
The owner, Antone Lambert and a friend, Thomas Regis, acquired a special use permit — a form of a lease — from the Federal Government to use part of the adjoining land as an orchard.
The idea of the orchard was abandoned when last winter's flood uprooted seedlings. The men then, reportedly, decided to try mining the property.
In the belief that Klan sympathizers would swell the crowd to large proportions, Fowler sought a lease from Lambert to insure standing room. He apparently was convinced that the site of the rally, to the west of the Lambert property, would not be large enough for the crowd in attendance. The overflow, which never came, was to have stood on Lambert's property.
An agent of Fowler's group reportedly signed a lease with a Charles Broderson, who was living on Lambert's land. Term of the lease was $1. Broderson, it is now believed, could not act as a legal signer.
Captain George Tielsch of the Newhall Sheriff's station and Angeles Forest Supervisor William Dresser met with Fowler before Saturday night's rally to explain the legal predicament that faced the Klan. Tielsch told Fowler that the land on which the Klan's huge cross with its unlit bulbs stood belonged to someone, but that no one knew who that someone was. Tielsch also mentioned that since the owner could not be found, no one could be denied access to the property.
Tielsch's news destroyed Fowler's pledge to keep press photographers and television cameramen barred from the area. Fowler had originally stated that only a select few photographers or cameramen would be allowed into the rally.
Immediately prior to the rally, [organizers] posted signs which warned against trespassing on property that was within the boundary of the Angeles National Forest.
On Monday, Regional Forester Charles Connaughton in San Francisco ordered that the special use permit granted to Lambert for an orchard be revoked. Lambert's permit specifically limited his use of the land to the intended orchard and did not include Ku Klux Klan gatherings, according to Angeles Forest Supervisor William Dresser.
Their permit would have expired at the end of this year, Dresser added. The revoking of the permit does not exclude Lambert from seeking another permit at the end of the year, Dresser said.
Klan Reactivation Upheld by Judge
Los Angeles Times | September 29, 1966.
Ruling that "people have a constitutional right to be stupid," Superior Judge Paul H. Nutter Wednesday rejected Atty. Gen. Thomas C. Lynch's petition to enjoin reactivation of the Ku Klux Klan in California.
Lynch took action against the klan two weeks ago, his petition naming William V. Fowler of La Crescenta, self-styled "honorary state cyclops of the KKK" and 100 "John Does."
At that time the court granted a temporary restraining order but Wednesday, following argument for and against a preliminary injunction by Dep. Atty. Gen. S. Clarke Moore and Fowler, appearing as his own lawyer, Judge Nutter ruled:
"In a question of constitutional rights — if there is a case of doubt — the court must sustain those rights.
"People have a constitutional right to be stupid, and if they want to put sheets over their heads and act like little children, they have that right.
"I am not condoning or approving the organization's policies, but I feel that I can't interfere..."
Moore argued that the privilege of the Ku Klux Klan to do business in California was revoked in 1946. At that time the KKK here was affiliated with the organization headquartered in Georgia.
Fowler told the court the 1966 reactivation of the klan is sponsored by a California committee which has no connection with the Georgia group.
Los Angeles Times | October 19, 1966.
A Ku Klux Klan leader filed a miscellaneous crime report at Van Nuys police station against auto mechanic Rudy Cicatelli, 35. William V. Fowler, 28, of 3430 Mayfield Ave., La Crescenta, accused Cicatelli of cutting the wires to a loudspeaker while he was making a speech Sept. 14. Fowler identified himself as state chairman of the California Committee of KKK.
Mischief Complaint Refused in KKK Case
Los Angeles Times | October 21, 1966.
The city attorney's office Thursday refused to issue a malicious mischief complaint against Rudy Cicatelli, 35, an auto mechanic named in a crime report by Ku Klux Klan leader William V. Fowler.
Fowler, 28, of La Crescenta, who identified himself as state chairman of the California Committee of KKK, accused Cicatelli of cutting the wires to a loudspeaker while he was making a speech Sept. 14 in Panorama City.
Donald Mowat, in charge of the Van Nuys city attorney's office, said he refused to issue a complaint against Cicatelli because no malicious intent was apparent.
"A charge of malicious mischief requires malicious intent, an act with wicked motives," he said, adding:
"The police interviewed him (Cicatelli) and he has a clean record. We feel no act of malicious intent was committed. His motive apparently was to stop the production of defamatory material that could have led to a riot."
Los Angeles Times | November 21, 1966.
Four men arrested by San Bernardino police at a Ku Klux Klan rally were released after posting bail. They were identified by police as the Rev. William V. Fowler, state chairman and honorary cyclops of the California Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; William Stewart, 44, of Glendale; Lewis Cross, 29, of Los Angeles; and Fred Harry, 23, of Bell Gardens.
Fowler was arrested Saturday night while playing a tape-recording of a speech after he had been denied a permit to speak at the San Bernardino Courthouse. He was charged with staging a public assembly without a permit, failure to disperse and inciting to riot. He posted $662 bail on the three charges, and another $276 bond on a warrant from Montclair charging him with kicking a market employee.
Professed Klan leader
ousted as church member
Redlands Daily Facts | December 8, 1966.
William V. Fowler, professed leader of the Ku Klux Klan in California, has been ousted as a member of the Covenant Church of Jesus Christ.
By a unanimous vote of the Lancaster church's directors, Fowler was forbidden to use the name of the church or represent it in any way.
Fowler was removed as a minister because of his affiliation with a Nov. 19 Ku Klux Klan rally in Cajon Pass, according to Rev. Thomas J. Warren, a founder and director of the church.
Ironically, Warren himself was arrested on Nov. 21, on a warrant charging him with unlawful assembly. His arraignment yesterday was continued until Dec. 20.
Fowler, along with Ralph Forbes, an American Nazi Party official and two other members of the Nazi Party, will face trial in San Bernardino Feb. 7 on charges stemming from the Klan rally.
Rev. Warren said he and other church leaders learned on Nov. 19 that the rally, which they understood was to be a church picnic, might be associated with the Klan.
They attended for about an hour and left after they saw what the rally was, he explained.
Rev. Warren also said he sent a letter to the District Attorney's office of San Bernardino county declaring that Fowler was not authorized to represent the church in the KKK rally.
In a related development. Fowler and Forbes have applied for permits to hold two more KKK rallies in the county this month — on Dec. 17 in Twentynine Palms and Dec. 31 in San Bernardino.
[Note: Rev. Tom Warren was a speaker at the earlier rally in Soledad Canyon — Ed.]
Photo caption reads: A Klansman? This photo taken on Sept. 17, 1966, at a KKK rally in Saugus
depicts three men in Klan robes below a cross. The man on the left is William Fowler, head of the
State Klan. The man in the middle has been identified by lawmen as Rev. Thomas J. Warren of Lancaster.
The man on the right remains unidentified.
Pastor at KKK Rally
San Bernardino County Sun-Telegram | January 11, 1967.
Rev. Thomas J. Warren, who has denied publicly he is a member of the California Ku Klux Klan, yesterday pleaded guilty in San Bernardino Municipal Court to unlawful assembly charges arising from a short-lived KKK rally held last November in Cajon Pass.
Warren, making a surprise appearance before Court Judge Ted G. Krumm, received $110 fine and a suspended six-month jail term.
The 39-year-old head of the Covenant Church of Jesus Christ in Lancaster was arrested on Nov. 21, two days after the KKK rally was broken up by San Bernardino Sheriff Frank Bland.
A week later, Warren announced that William V. Fowler, acknowledged head of the California Klan, had been removed as a preaching minister of Warren's church, a position he had held since 1965.
Warren said Fowler had misrepresented himself and used the church name to lease land in Cajon Pass for the KKK rally without authorization from the church.
However, Warren himself attended the Nov. 19 rally, although he told The Sun-Telegram he thought he was going to attend a "church picnic" and not a KKK rally.
San Bernardino law officers said yesterday that the voice of the man who preached "hate" on a tape recording broadcast at the Cajon Pass rally was Rev. Warren's.
A newspaper photo taken at the KKK's initial rally in the San Fernando Valley [sic: Santa Clarita Valley] on Sept. 17, 1966, showed three men in Klan robes. One of them was identified by lawmen as being Rev. Warren.
The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith in a report on KKK activities in Southern California stated on the night of the Saugus rally that "At 7 p.m., Fowler appeared in a Klan robe. He was met by Rev. Tom Warren, a former associate of Wesley Swift, the notorious hate-monger. Warren and another man on the platform also wore Klan robes."
The report went on to say Fowler spoke for a few minutes, then introduced Rev. Warren who addressed the crowd. "As was clearly predictable, the speeches of Fowler and Warren were anti-Negro and anti-Semitic and filled with gutter-type invectives," the B'nai B'rith report stated.
A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League who attended the rally in Cajon Pass that Warren's voice was audible on the tape recording which played the afternoon of Nov. 19.
Fowler, American Nazi Party leader Ralph Forbes, and other ANP stormtroopers face trial here on Feb. 7 on charges of unlawful assembly and holding a public rally without a permit, all stemming from their appearance at the KKK rally in November.
Klan Leader Found Guilty of Battery
Los Angeles Times | January 20, 1967.
Ontario — California Ku Klux Klan Cyclops William V. Fowler, 28, of La Crescenta, was found guilty by a Municipal Court jury Thursday of battery in the kicking of an 18-year-old boxboy.
William Foote was kicked when he sought to round up leaflets handed out by Fowler and other members of the Klan announcing a meeting to be held last Nov. 19 in Cajon Pass.
Municipal Judge Roland C. Rutledge fined Fowler $83. He suspended a 90-day jail sentence and placed him on probation for two years.
Fowler still must answer to a count of unlawful assembly in San Bernardino.
Cajon Pass Assembly Ruled Legal
Acquittal Ordered for 5 Men in KKK Case
Los Angeles Times | March 24, 1967.
San Bernardino — A Ku Klux Klan rally held on a rented site in the Cajon Pass was not an unlawful assembly, a Municipal Court judge ruled Thursday as he ordered a directed verdict of acquittal for five defendants.
Judge Ted G. Krumm said, however, that he would let the jury decide whether the defendants were unlawfully assembled outside the courthouse, where they demonstrated against arrests made at the rally.
The courthouse demonstration followed the arrests at the rally Nov. 10 on "Freedom Acres," 10 miles north of here.
Charged with unlawful assembly at the rally were William V. Fowler, self-styled "cyclops" of the Ku Klux Klan of California; Ralph Forbes, Fred Harry and Vance Bates of the American Nazi Party; and William I. Stewart. All except Fowler were also charged in connection with the courthouse demonstration.
Mrs. Anna Mills testified during the eight-day trial that she rented her property to Fowler under the impression he was planning a religious meeting.
Judge Krumm said, "If these people want to gather to run around in white uniforms and preach all kinds of hate, they have every right to do it. As long as they do not advocate the overthrow of the government by force and violence, they can say anything they want to about anyone."
While the judge did not spell out the distinction between the two sets of charges, he apparently treated the courthouse demonstration differently because it occurred on public properly.
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