The concerns of local officials are legitimate about an anti-immigration rally planned here by the National Knights of the Klu Klux Klan.

Mayor Dan Williams and Limestone Commission Chairman David Seibert each denied applications last week for a permit to rally on the courthouse lawn on Sept. 15. The permit application was made by Jack Thomas of Rogersville and the time requested was during the annual Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride when as many as 100,000 riders are expected to pass through Limestone County.

Williams now says his concern is for public safety and he offered the group an alternative place and time for the rally.

Ray Larsen with the KKK says the group plans to continue with plans to gather at the time initially specified, whether or not a permit has been granted.

We feel this could cause an explosive situation in Athens.

In the past two years, riders have died during or after the ride because of heavy traffic.

We abhor the message of hatred and intolerance spread by this group and we agree with Williams and Seibert that its members are unwelcome here.

We also wholeheartedly support the First Amendment and the rights granted to every group, regardless of message. This group has a right to assemble peaceably and to rally against immigration laws. But we feel they chose this time for the rally to create an atmosphere of chaos and, potentially, danger.

As Williams stated, a group that spreads hatred as its message is likely to inspire violence in someone. If violence were to occur in the midst of such huge numbers of people in our small town, the outcome could be disastrous.

The message of the KKK has nothing in common with the message of remembrance of the Trail of Tears Ride.

We hope this group, led by Grand Dragon Jerome Johnson, will agree to hold the rally after the riders have passed.

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