Police Plan in Place for Memphis Ku Klux Klan Rally

Police Plan in Place for Memphis Ku Klux Klan Rally

Memphis police are ready to deal with the Klan. The Saturday rally at the Shelby County Courthouse downtown will be one of the most policed events this city has ever seen.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis police are ready to deal with the Klan. The Saturday rally at the Shelby County Courthouse downtown will be one of the most policed events this city has ever seen.

Mayor A C Wharton is again urging people not to show up for an event that will be, in his words, "sordid and filled with hate."

There is a small section of Memphis that will be basically locked down on Saturday afternoon. But, Mayor Wharton says don't change your plans. If you were planning on heading downtown to go to a restaurant or club, do it. Just don't waste your time coming to a Klan rally.

Two groups have permits for rallies, both at the same address. There will be a gathering by a group called "Power to the People" from 11 Saturday morning until 1:30. Then, police will bus in the Klan members from an undisclosed location. Anybody who wants to demonstrate will be kept at a checkpoint several blocks away.

Wharton says, "That is not one of our busiest areas. We're going to have it restricted and cordoned off."

Mayor Wharton has talked with cops and says he thinks they have a great plan to deal with the Klan, which includes security checkpoints, metal detectors, and a ban on weapons and masks. But, Wharton is still concerned.

"You have to be," he said. "Anytime a group that is about to spread hate you have to be concerned, particularly when you know your city and you know that the vast majority of people who live here reject that message."

The pictures of the 1998 Ku Klux Klan march and all the violence that followed are tough to forget. Wharton says Memphis is a different place now. People can show how different by showing up that afternoon at Tiger Lane, where there will be events during the day as part of the "Heart of Memphis" celebration, including the Mayor A C Wharton Easter Egg Hunt. He wonders why, in fact, anybody would want to go see the fools in sheets talk about hate.

"Messages of hate are so simple. What would anyone learn from anybody who wants to stand up and spew hatred - why do you want to go see that?"

Police Director Toney Armstrong says he's received threats against his life. Several other city officials have received death threats as well; he wouldn't name the targeted officials, but the threats are being taken seriously.

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