ST. HELENS — Two St. Helens boys wearing homemade Klu Klux Klan outfits walked down Columbia Boulevard around 9:30 am Aug. 27.
Witnesses say the teenagers arrived to 18th and Columbia Boulevard in a convertible and then walked down the boulevard. Despite appearances, though, the boys told police officers they had no affiliation with the Klan or its beliefs.
"Two kids thought it would be funny to see what reaction they would get," said St. Helens Police Lt. Terry Moss.
The reaction they got was not laughs. When St. Helens Police arrived at the corner of Columbia Boulevard and St. Helens Street, a few men had formed a circle around the duo and a verbal fight was ensuing, said Moss. Several cars passing by yelled angrily and flipped off the pillowcase-clad boys.
The KKK is an extremist group that promotes white supremacy. The group is known for its hate crimes against minorities, usually African Americans, and its white robes, pointy hats and masks that cover member's faces, and burning crosses, which are used as scare tactics.
There were large groups of the KKK living in Oregon in the 1920s, and there continues to be some Klan members in pockets throughout the state.
The officers told the boys, who are about 16 years old, that they could continue in their outfits if they wanted, but it was probably not safe, according to Moss. The boys quickly left the scene.
Moss predicted the situation would have become physical once officers left.
"This is blatant ignorance and racism at its worse," said a livid Dustin Reynolds. Reynolds was one of the men confronting the boys.
The teenagers could not be charged with any crime.
"It's not illegal to voice an opinion. My concern was more that they might be the victims of a crime, because something like this definitely stirs up emotions," said police chief Steve Salle'.
According to reports, one of the boys is the son of a St. Helens Police officer.