KKK Rally in Athens Uneventful
By Associated Press
Athens AL – Police reported some shouting matches, but no arrests Saturday afternoon in an hour-long rally by the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in front of Athens City Hall.
The city had issued the Indiana-based group a parade permit, but Athens Police Capt. Tracy Harrison said there was no parade.
He said several of the dozen Klan members gave anti-immigration speeches and only three were dressed in Klan robes.
Several hundred people some from area churches protested the Klan activity, holding up signs saying, "Love." Harrison said there were some shouting matches between the two groups, but no arrests.
James Williams, of Tanner, who is black, attended the rally with his wife Andrea, who is white, and three of their five children.
Williams said he was not afraid to have his young children hear the Klan message of racial hatred and separation.
"We believe in Jesus Christ and we are raising our children up in the church and these guys won't change their minds," Williams told the Athens News-Courier. "We believe in a higher power."
The Klan permit was issued in the name of J.L. Thomas of Rogersville.
Athens Mayor Dan Williams had urged people to stay away from the rally.
"These people want attention and they want someway to cause controversy," he said. "We don't want our community to become known as a hangout for Klansmen, and the Aryan Nation and what all names they go by."
Several hours before the rally, thousands of motorcyclists traveled through the city on the annual Trail of Tears ride.