[Shaw Media file photo: Power of Two singer Chris McDermand of Crystal Lake performs Saturday, Aug. 19, 1995 at the Peace and Justice Festival on the Woodstock Square.]
Patrick Murfin, a member of the Tree of Life Social Justice Team who worked closely with Larsen to help organize a peaceful response to the Klan, agreed with Cohen.
He said the Klan's rally ended up bringing together the community in positive ways.
"When the Klan came in 1995, we decided to respond by staging an alternative event – we put on a peace festival in the Square while the Klan was at the new courthouse," Murfin said.
That event later turned into Diversity Day, which brought people to the Square each summer for 13 years to reflect on a variety of topics.
Before the Klan's rally, few people in the community were taking about racial problems in McHenry County, Murfin said.
"It got the conversation started," he said. "It helped spur a lot of cooperation."
Murfin said the events of the summer of 1995 helped, indirectly, to establish a number of human relations commissions in towns throughout the county.
• Brett Rowland is news editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 815-526-4630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.