UPDATE: Rally against Klan OKed by High Point officials
City officials this afternoon approved a demonstration permit for a group opposing the Ku Klux Klan to hold a rally Saturday that would coincide with a reported meeting of Klan members in the city tomorrow.
The city issued the permit to the group Stand Against the KKK, which wants to show public opposition to the white supremacist group. The rally will take place from noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow at the intersection of N. Main Street and Eastchester Drive.
On the Facebook page for the group, about 45 people indicated by early this afternoon that they would attend tomorrow’s rally. The permit issued by the city indicates the demonstration could involve “approximately 100 participants.”
The High Point Enterprise first reported Friday that opponents of the Klan quickly put together the demonstration after learning about a reported Klan meeting in High Point, which a KKK website refers to as a “meet and greet.” As of this afternoon, no Klan group had requested a demonstration permit for any event tomorrow, city officials say.
The Klan gathering in High Point scheduled for Saturday will involve members of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK from chapters in North Carolina and Virginia, said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The High Point meeting could involve about a dozen Klan members, Potok told the Enterprise.
The center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is one of the country’s leading organizations that tracks racially motivated hate group activity. The center has monitored hate group actions for 42 years.
On its website, the Loyal White Knights of the KKK updated a posting about the so-called “meet and greet” to indicate that the meeting is for members in North Carolina and Virginia. But the posting doesn’t indicate a time or location for the meeting in the city.
Organizers of the rally against the Klan picked the location for the demonstration in part because of the visibility there, said organizer Ben Lassiter, who’s from Greensboro. The most recent daily traffic count at N. Main and Eastchester is 39,071 vehicles, one of the largest single-daily counts in the city, according to High Point Department of Transportation figures.
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A group of activists and citizens plans to demonstrate in High Point this weekend against the Ku Klux Klan, on the same day that a Klan group reportedly is holding a private function in the city.
The group calling itself Stand Against the KKK in High Point requested a demonstration permit to gather from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of N. Main Street and Eastchester and Westchester drives. As of late Thursday afternoon, city of High Point officials hadn’t signed off on a permit at that location, but did acknowledge receiving the permit request.
The public demonstration coincides the same day that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan reportedly would hold a so-called “meet and greet” in the city. The Klan group’s website makes reference to some type of event Saturday in High Point, though there’s no time or location.
A city of High Point official said no Klan group had applied for a public demonstration permit as of late Thursday afternoon.
An organizer of the anti-Klan rally, Ben Lassiter, said he and others want to make a public statement that the Klan isn’t welcome in High Point or any other community.
“The general concern is that, if we pretend that the Klan has legitimate political viewpoints, it creates an atmosphere in which they feel emboldened,” Lassiter told The High Point Enterprise. “We felt it was important to publicly demonstrate to let people know that this still goes on, and that people still hold these ideas.”
An organization that has tracked Klan activity for decades, the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, has cited recent Klan activity in Georgia and other locations, Lassiter said.
Since the reported Klan gathering in High Point was noticed recently, the anti-Klan rally has been organized quickly through social media sites such as Facebook, Lassiter said.
High Point Police Chief Marty Sumner said that local law enforcement always will observe and respect a group’s right to demonstrate.
Sumner said that he’s taking the approach to any demonstration Saturday against the Klan as his police department would with any public gathering.
“We have input on the permit, then meet with whoever is organizing to go over the rules — what you can and can’t do,” the chief said.
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