MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Thousands of Ku Klux Klan members are coming to Memphis. The KKK is planning the largest rally they've ever had, and the issue surrounds the renaming of three historical Memphis parks.
Klansmember "Shane" doesn't want to reveal his identity, but says, "Memphis is fixing to see the largest Klan rally they've ever seen." He says with the City Council's move to change the name of Forrest Park, they're trying to erase history. "We're a Christian-based organization and we are not out to start a race riot or anything, but we feel it is wrong that they're trying to change the name of our park and we're going to stand up for that."
Shane says the local Klan has already been in contact with organizations across the country. By the end of February they plan to hold a peaceful protest, for change and understanding. Shane says, "(We want) our parks names not changed and maybe people to not be afraid of us anymore because we're not out to start trouble. We're just standing up for our race."
Others fear the worst. Lee Millar, a spokesperson for Sons of the Confederacy, remembers the violent scene on MLK day in Downtown Memphis, 1998. Police fired tear gas on hundreds of demonstrators as they advanced on a Ku Klux Klan rally. "We really hope they don't come to Memphis," Millar says, "The Klan has a bad rep."
Millar agrees that the park name should remain, but doesn't want the KKK involved. "I would hope the opponents of the Klan would not start a riot, Memphis doesn't need that," Millar continues, "but it certainly puts a black name on the city of Memphis for the Klan to even show up to oppose the lunacy of renaming a historic park."
Shane says the KKK members are not armed during rallies, but police are alerted and there to protect them if anyone tries to attack.