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Students encounter racism after King celebration

About 1,300 students from the Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls school districts attended a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration today at North Idaho College.

On their way back to school, their buses passed a dozen white supremacists demonstrating on Northwest Boulevard in Coeur d’Alene, waving Ku Klux Klan flags and signs supporting segregation. To Tony Stewart, it was a teachable moment.

The students had just been learning about King and the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, said Stewart, co-founder of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.

“What the young minds saw,” he said, “is that we’re still not free from bigotry and prejudice in this country or any other country…. They didn’t leave thinking that there are no problems.”

Among the demonstrators was Shaun Winkler, who calls himself the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the KKK. Winkler said his group plans another demonstration Monday evening outside the human relations task force’s annual gala.

The gala is the organization’s annual fundraiser, Stewart said. It raises money for programs such as the student’s MLK celebration, which has occurred the last 27 years.

The gala includes live music and an auction. It takes place from 5-8 p.m. Monday at Parkside Towers, 601 E. Front Ave., in Coeur d’Alene. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $40.