Thursday, February 25, 2010

Video: Ku Klux Klan rally

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 6:11 PM

While counting down the 275 miles on the drive from Atlanta to Nahunta, en route to the Georgia Knight Riders of Ku Klux Klan rally Feb. 20, CL staff photographer Joeff Davis and I had no idea what to expect. It seemed inconceivable that the KKK still exists, operates, and even has supporters. Do they still wear the white robes and pointy hats? Will they burn crosses on the courthouse lawn when they deliver their hate speech? These were all unknown factors that attracted us both as journalists and as curious onlookers. “If things get out of hand and you find yourself in a situation where your getting stomped by a dozen Klan members, is it cool if I take photos?” Joeff asked me in all seriousness.

“Sure,” I said. “If the roles are reversed and you’re getting beaten is it cool if I ask them why?” We both laughed, but there was an air of unease that only increased the closer we got.

Police directed us away from the first empty parking lot we came to, explaining that it was reserved for the NAACP. We found a local farm bureau across the street and parked there. We both felt our unease grow on the short walk across town, like something was about to explode. We came to a small gathering of NAACP and other protesters, surrounded by cops, state patrol men and county sheriffs.

The sheer number of police on street guaranteed that neither one of us were going to get beaten. On a side street, Georgia’s Imperial Wizard Jeff Jones picked up a microphone and began speaking. At first, he dwelled on topics that everyone can agree on. Yes, outsourcing is bad for the country. Yes, corporations are destroying local economies, and yes child molesters are bad. But when talk turned toward illegal immigration, the focus of the rally, Jones repeatedly referred to immigrants as “mongrels” and “mud people.” A palpable change swept over the crowd, as a disarmingly high number of supporters cheered him on.

That was the most unsettling aspect of the rally. Not that the KKK still exists, but that supporters came out in droves and greatly outnumbered the opposition. The interviews that you see in the video were recorded as the Klan marched away in single file and the crowd dispersed. The people were real and their responses were real. Neither one of us received a beating, but the shock of witnessing such enthusiastic Klan support was brutal in its own rite.

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