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TOLERANCE MESSAGE AIMS TO BLUNT KLAN HIGHWAY ROLE

The Adopt-A-Highway signs sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan on a stretch of Missouri freeway may soon be overshadowed by a larger sign, this one promoting racial diversity.

A coalition of civil rights groups has decided to place a billboard along Interstate 55 in southern St. Louis County at the site where the KKK will be picking up trash as part of a state sponsorship program. Last month, the Missouri Department of Transportation was forced by a court to allow the Klan to participate.

"We want to make it clear that this is a region that does not tolerate hate," Rudy Nickens, vice president of St. Louis 2004, told about 30 community leaders attending a strategy session Wednesday in the Urban League office in St. Louis.

The billboard is expected to read, "Freedom of speech protects all people even if they are wrong."

Vandals have knocked down the signs noting the KKK's Adopt-A-Highway participation, and it will take weeks to get them repaired.

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