KKK, Black Panther affiliate plan coinciding rallies at South Carolina Capitol
WATCH ABOVE: The Ku Klux Klan and a group affiliated with the New Black Panther Party plan on demonstrating Saturday at the South Carolina State House despite the Confederate flag’s removal last week. Both out-of-state groups will protest at the same time for an hour from 3 to 4 p.m. on the north side of the capitol.
Tensions are expected to be high in South Carolina on Saturday as a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and an African-American group have planned coinciding demonstrations in front of the Statehouse over the controversial Confederate flag.
The contentious issue of the Confederate battle flag – a powerful symbol of slavery to some and a reminder of southern heritage to others – has stirred emotions across the southern United States in the wake of the killings of nine black people at a church in Charleston last month by a young white supremacist.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley urged residents to steer clear of the “hateful” Klan rally which is scheduled for 3 p.m.
“Our family hopes the people of South Carolina will join us in staying away from the disruptive, hateful spectacle members of the Ku Klux Klan hope to create over the weekend and instead focus on what brings us together,” Haley said in a statement posted to her Facebook page.
The flag was removed from the Statehouse grounds on July 10, following contentious debate among state senators. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a South Carolina state senator, was one of the victims killed in the Charleston shootings.
The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a Pelham, North Carolina-based chapter calls itself “the largest Klan in America,” and expects about 200 people to attend its demonstration, planned from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., according to The State newspaper based in Columbia.
Meanwhile, a Florida based African-American activist group called the Black Educators for Justice is expecting roughly 300 people at its protest from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The group is run by James Evans Muhammad, a former director of the New Black Panther Party, who told The State the removal of the flag “an illusion of progress.”
“Ever since slavery started in America, whites have the privilege of freedom that blacks in South Carolina do not have,” Muhammad told the paper. “White privilege had stuck a knife in black people back in South Carolina and America as a whole. You can’t pull a 12-inch knife out two inches and call that progress.”
The two protests are scheduled to overlap from 3 to 4 p.m.
A call to the Loyal White Knights was not returned, but an automated message at the chapter’s listed phone number said its members will be “standing up for our Confederate history and all the Southerners who fought and died against federal tyranny. Our government is trying to erase white culture and our heritage right out of the pages of our history books.”
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