Group protests KKK gathering

Mar. 09, 2013 @ 09:16 PM

Some were Socialists, others environmentalists and still others veterans of the Occupy Winston-Salem movement.
All of them, about 25 strong, gathered Saturday as Stand Against the KKK on a busy High Point street corner to protest a reported Ku Klux Klan organizing meeting in the Triad and intolerance of most kinds, ranging from discrimination to hate speech.
The busy corner of N. Main Street and Eastchester/Westchester Drive was noisy as drivers honked their horns in support.  One pickup truck driver honked the first few notes of “Dixie” on his horn as he passed. Several drivers, stopped in slowing traffic, offered money.
“We want to show the Klan that it is not welcome in the Triad,” said Ben Lassiter a Greensboro Socialist and musician who organized the gathering. “We do not want them to organize here and we think they cause violence in our society.”
Lassiter and others, who used Facebook to organize the gathering, said they were pleased to get so many supporting honks at the intersection.
“As many as 40 people responded, but some were too far away to come here,” Lassiter said.
The rally was the first for the group this year. Lassiter said the effort was affiliated with the International Socialist Organization. The demonstrators carried signs opposing the Klan as well as messages boosting socialist themes of justice for workers and the poor.
Several demonstrators said they attended gatherings in Charlotte and Harmony last year to oppose the Klan.
Ron Rabatsky, a Charlotte retiree, said he drove to High Point to “fight against intolerance.”
“Everybody who is not white and does not follow their beliefs, they oppose,” Rabatsky said. “In Charlotte the KKK was there and the police showed up.”
The reported Loyal White Knights of the KKK meeting in High Point was billed as a “meet and greet” for chapters in North Carolina and Virginia, according to Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which has monitored Klan activities for 42 years. The Triad meeting could have attracted a dozen Klan members, Potok said. The KKK website did not mention a specific site for the meeting.
Like many, Lassiter thinks the Klan has been near death, but the economic climate has given rise to recruiting activities.
“They take advantage of the tough economic times and try to place social problems on the disadvantaged in our society,” Lassiter said.
Sally Hirsh, a veteran of the Occupy Winston-Salem and an environmentalist, said she came to High Point to support those standing against the Klan.
“It is important how we treat one another,” she said.
Tony Kdege, another Occupy Winston-Salem member, said the group did not want the Klan to organize as it did last year in Charlotte and Harmony in Iredell County where Klan members distributed literature and advertising.
“Those were more like rallies,”  said Kdege. “We have a message that we do not want to go back to Jim Crow times.”

The city issued a permit for Stand Against the KKK to gather at the busy N. Main Street intersection near Starbucks.