A Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapter which claims to be the largest in America plans to hold a rally outside of the South Carolina Statehouse next month.
The Loyal White Knights of the KKK requested permission to rally on the statehouse grounds and are expecting about 200 people to attend.
The Klan requested to hold the rally just one day after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) said she would call on state lawmakers to take on the issue of removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse building.
The controversy over the Confederate flag came after the terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine black people dead. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, was wearing a patch of the flag on his jacket in pictures online.
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The legislature will reconvene on July 6 and is expected to take up the issue of the flag. Its removal requires a two-thirds majority vote, according to ABC News.
On June 27, activist Bree Newsome climbed the 30-foot flagpole to cut down the flag. Newsome was promptly arrested and the flag was replaced. A few hours later, dozens rallied in favor of the Confederate flag, The Washington Post reports.
James Spears, the Great Titan of the Loyal White Knights, spoke to the South Carolina Station WHNS. He expects the pro-confederate flag rally to be peaceful.
The protest, Spears said, is over “the Confederate flag being took down for all the wrong reasons.”
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“It’s part of white people’s culture,” Spears added.
Spears said that the “Grand Dragon” of the chapter lives only 20 miles from the statehouse. “That’s where we’ll be holding a cross lighting at the end of the night,” Spears said.
When Spears was asked about the charges Dylann Roof is facing, he said, “I feel sorry for the boy because of his age and I think he picked the wrong target. A better target for him would have been these gang-bangers, running around and rapping, raping and stealing,” Politico reports.
The website of the chapter calls on followers to oppose attempts at “cultural genocide.” It says that the Loyal White Knights seek to unite “White Christian Americans” against Jewish people and mixing with “darker races.”
Historically, victims of attacks by the Ku Klux Klan included Catholics as well as Jews, gays and lesbians, immigrants, and, most frequently, African Americans.
The group was once said to have an “invisible empire” across southern states and were known for lynching, tar-and-feathering, rape, and other violent attacks, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Violent intimidation against African American voters was also a primary political tactic of the Klan. Once, in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, the group killed and wounded more than 200 black Republicans in a successful effort coerce voters.
As an anti-Semitic, homophobic, white supremacist hate group, the Klan is not expected to increase support for the Confederate flag, and may actually help pressure lawmakers to remove it. Governor Haley said of the group, “This is our state, and they are not welcome.”
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