The 12 people who dressed in Ku Klux Klan costumes during carnival celebrations in canton Schwyz are not guilty of racial discrimination, local justice officials say.
The central Schwyz public prosecutor’s officeExternal link said on Friday that the men had overstepped the mark on what was allowed at carnival celebrations and that common decency had been grossly violated. But the men’s behavior did not constitute the offence of racial discrimination, because they did not intend to convert people to the KKK, judicial officials added.
The prosecutor’s office said that it had now concluded its investigation into the incident, which happened on March 4 in the town of Brunnen. A video, which was reported on in Swiss mediaExternal link, showed a group walking along a street dressed in white outfits with KKK written on the chest, pointed hoods and carrying burning torches.
The episode shocked certain locals and parliamentarians in Bern, and the police became involved. The director of the Federal Commission against Racism, Alma Wiecken, condemned the incident. “Such gatherings should not be tolerated,” she declared.
Hundreds also gathered for an anti-racism demonstration in the town of Schwyz the following month.
The KKK is a white supremacist group, founded in the US in 1865, which terrorized blacks in the US South and later targeted other minority groups, following the Civil War and the emancipation of African-American slaves. There are thought to still be around 8,000 KKK supporters in the US. The group has reportedly established contacts with rightwing groups overseas
The judgement is not yet legally binding, and the men still have ten days to appeal.
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