TROY, N.C. — The North Carolina chapter of the Ku Klux Klan said today it plans to hold a public rally against illegal immigration Saturday at the county courthouse in Troy, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
There have been rumors for weeks that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based in Pelham in Caswell County, would hold one or more rallies in the Triad this weekend.
One option was a potential private event in Welcome with a cross burning.
Robert Jones, N.C. grand dragon for the organization, said the chapter would hold the Troy event at 4 p.m. Saturday and a private rally at 8 p.m. Saturday in Reidsville. He did not identify Welcome as a site for the private rally.
That, however, doesn’t mean a rally in Welcome is not a possibility.
Jones told local and national media outlets this week that the chapter has in the past disclosed one site for a private rally and actually conducted it somewhere else. He cited as an example the chapter discussing a rally in May 2012 in the Iredell County community of Harmony, but holding it instead in Mount Airy.
Jones said that Saturday’s private rally would take place at a site about an hour north of Troy, which could include Welcome. He said Klan members typically are provided with a few hours’ notice of the confirmed private rally site.
The chapter applied for a permit for a crowd of about 200 at the Troy site. The Troy city manager and police chief have not responded to calls about whether the permit was picked up today.
“We have tents in place already, so we will hold the event in Troy rain or shine,” Jones said.
He said Klan members asked for the chapter to conduct a rally there. Jones said the private rally would take place if weather permits.
The Southern Poverty Law Center considers the Klan a hate group, which is defined as “any organization that considers an entire group as somehow less than the members of their organization.”
Talk of the potential Welcome event was taken seriously enough by two advocacy groups — GetEqual N.C. and El Cambio NC — that Tuesday they scheduled a counter protest Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at 6455 Old U.S. 52 in Welcome. The groups say the theme of their counter protest is “hatred not welcome here.”
Officials from those groups could not be reached for comment about whether the Welcome event will be held if it is raining, or if the public rally is in Troy and the private rally in Reidsville.
GetEqual advocates for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals, while El Cambio advocates for the establishment of an immigrant and minorities’ rights movement.
Rodney Hyatt, manager of Davidson County, said today that he had heard rumors of a Klan rally in Welcome, but has not received any official notification or seen any fliers about a potential event.
Hyatt said the Klan chapter would not need a permit to hold a rally on private land. He said the county has a mass gathering ordinance that’s geared toward a multiday event attracting thousands of people.
According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor posted today that highlights the N.C. rallies, Klan chapters “are likely trying to piggy-back on widespread anger over a flood of illegal migrant children.”
Klan officials also have focused on concerns of the impact of illegal immigration on the economy and job market as wedge issues to drum up support, potentially even among blacks.
The media outlet said the number of Klan groups has declined since 2010, from 221 to about 150, with a total of perhaps 6,000 members nationwide.