By Calvin Palmer
If you thought the Ku Klux Klan was a relic from the ignominious days of segregation in the United States, you would be wrong.
The KKK is alive much to the consternation of officials and law enforcement officers in a small city in southeast Georgia.
The Knight Riders, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – strange how the word “knight” has been hijacked by an organization founded on hate and bigotry – plans to hold a rally on February 20 in Nahunta, 36 miles west of Brunswick.
The city plans to close three blocks of Main Street, U.S. 301.
Nahunta City Clerk Angie Wirth said: “They have a constitutional right to assemble. We can’t tell them not to.”
The KKK had hoped to use the City Hall parking lot but access has been denied. Despite that rebuff, the Knights Riders under the leadership of grand dragon Gregg Wolf said they would still come.
“They are not being given permission to come,” said City Attorney Kelly Brooks. “They’re just coming. We cannot stop them. They can walk as long as they don’t obstruct the free flow of traffic.”
It seems like the city missed a trick here. By closing the main street they have guaranteed that this rally will not obstruct traffic.
It would have been better to keep it open and when the first car to come along the street was impeded, arrest every member of the rally. Their freedom to march would not have been denied but they would be denied their “freedom” to espouse malice and hatred.
At the same time, law enforcement officials could run a vehicle check on the Klan members’ cars and it could be found that every one of them had smashed tail lights. Now, how did that happen? And if the vehicles are not fit to be on the road, they could quite legitimately be towed away to a compound, preferably at least 100 miles from Nahunta.
A small city such as Nanhuta has obviously called on the services of Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to police the event, although GBI agents do not plan to be at the rally, said Special Agent Mike McDaniel.
“If a crime is committed, we will be available to assist the sheriff investigate it, just like normal,” he said.
A word of advice, special agent, it is better to prevent a crime than wait for it to happen.
Right-wing extremists throughout history and across the world have always sheltered behind their “constitutional” rights. Have we not learned anything from the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany during the 1930s, a rise that was aided and abetted by police officials who by sticking strictly to the letter of the law effectively turned a blind eye?
It is incumbent on the authorities in Nahunta to make the visit by the Knight Riders as unpleasant for them as possible, short of physical violence.
And when their freedoms have been denied, let the Knight Riders go bleating to Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin or any other right-wing idiot who might listen to, and champion, their grievances.
In the United States of the 21st Century, a clear message needs to be sent to these “knights”, “grand dragons” and other pantomime characters: “You are not wanted. Your beliefs are not worthy of a public platform.”
Does anyone in their right mind really want to hear the Klan’s views on sex offenders, illegal immigrants and prayer in school? I think not.
For a group that advocates intolerance, it seems somewhat perverse that they should expect tolerance from the rest of civilized and decent society. But this is Republican territory and you can rest assured that the constitution will be strictly adhered to and I doubt that one squeak of protest will be heard from the GOP and its supporters.
Sadly, any attempts to stop this rally are likely to come from street fighting men. On whose conscience will the bloody and violent consequences rest, if it comes to that?
[Based on a report by The Florida Times-Union.]