A North Carolina Ku Klux Klan group announced on its website that it planned to hold a rally and cross burning in May in Asheboro. The city and its U.S. congressman aren’t happy about it.
The city announced on Facebook Sunday that it denounced “in the strongest terms possible the message of hate and division advocated by the Ku Klux Klan and its affiliates.”
“The people of Asheboro have worked too hard to unify our community to let an outside group come in and spread racist views without raising our voices loudly in protest,” Mayor David H. Smith said in the statement. “They may have a right to peacefully assemble, but we also have a right to object at the top of our collective voice.”
The event was scheduled by The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which is based in Pelham – an unincorporated community about 45 minutes north of Burlington, near the Virginia line. Details of the rally are scarce, but the website said the event on May 6 will feature speeches, dinner and a cross burning at dark.
U.S. Rep. Mark Walker also denounced the KKK’s plans. Walker is a Republican who represents the state’s 6th district which includes Randolph County where Asheboro is located.
“I despise bringing any awareness to such despicable behavior; however, such hate needs to be rebuked,” Walker said in a statement. “The KKK rally planned for May in Randolph County is a reminder of the hateful ideologies that exists within a minuscule group.”
The rally may be constitutional, Walker said, but the KKK’s message and legacy “are an affront to our core value that all people are created equal. I would hope the people of North Carolina reject this behavior not with violence, but with actions that represent genuine love for all in our community.”
The KKK has not announced an exact location or time for the rally, but its flier touts free parking as well as no drinking, drugs or weapons.
Asheboro city manager John N. Ogburn said the city had received no applications for the event.
“It’s a shame that we spent countless hours collaborating as a community to win the coveted All-America City award last year only to be reminded that forces of division are out there seeking to tear communities down,” Smith said. “If anything, this announcement strengthens my resolve to make Asheboro the most inclusive and welcoming city in North Carolina to all.”
The group has held other events, including a parade through Roxboro in December. The parade, to celebrate Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, drew more than 100 participants.
The KKK’s official newspaper, The Crusader, and former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke embraced Trump, the Republican candidate in last year’s presidential campaign.
Two Klan leaders, who organized a “White Lives Matter” rally that turned violent in Anaheim, Calif., in 2016, were arrested in North Carolina in December in connection with a stabbing before a Klan parade, according to a New York Times story. The Times said the men — William Hagen, grand dragon of the Loyal White Knights, and Chris Baker — were accused of stabbing a third Klan member.
The group was also behind a rally in South Carolina in 2015 protesting the removal of the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett