The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

August 28, 2007

Klan group denied rally permit

Mayor Dan Williams has put the Ku Klux Klan on notice that the city of Athens does not need the group’s help with its illegal immigrant problems.

Williams this week denied a request by the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to stage an anti-immigration rally on the courthouse lawn Sept. 15.

“They are a hate group,” Williams said. “We don’t want them here. They are not invited here and we don’t need help with immigration. Athens has come too far to have people like this come into our community.”

Williams said Athens Police Administrative Assistant Debbie Smith received the permit request for a rally to be held on the same day the annual Trail of Tears motorcycle ride would pass through the community.

“I showed it to Chief (Wayne) Harper and he said it’s not a good idea because that is when the Trail of Tears passes through and it takes all available manpower to control traffic on that day,” Smith said. “I passed it on to the mayor. Apparently, they have a schedule and have been going from town to town.”

According to Southern Poverty Law Center Web site, different factions of the Klan have been holding the anti-immigration rallies across the country. The most recent rally in the North Alabama area was in Tuscumbia in late May, when members of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan held an anti- immigration rally.

“You know, if they go through all the rules, I guess they’ve got the same right as anyone to hold a rally,” said the mayor. “They wanted to use the courthouse lawn and they said in their application that they had permission to use the courthouse lawn. We told them that they couldn’t come at the same time that the Trail of Tears was coming through because of the police having to work that.

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