This Saturday, March 30, members of a North Carolina-based Ku Klux Klan group and other white supremacists will stage a protest at a courthouse in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, to protest that city’s decision to rename three local parks bearing names related to the Confederacy. In rallying support for the protest, Chris Barker, the “Imperial Wizard” of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (LWK), told followers that the government was attempting to “erase all that our Anglo Saxon Race has to be proud of.” Following the protest, the LWK plans to host a cross-burning on private property at an undisclosed location.
A number of Klan groups reacted with anger in February 2013, after the Memphis City Council voted 9-0 to rename Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park with less offensive titles. Of the three, the park named after Forrest had been the most controversial, as prior to the Civil War, Forrest had been a slave trader, and during the War was a general who had been associated with the massacre of African-American soldiers. After the war he became the first national leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Klan reaction following the vote was predictable. James Moore, the LWK’s Grand Dragon for the Realm of Virginia, posted a YouTube video of himself attempting to describe the City Council’s unanimous vote as a “continuing cultural genocide [against] white Americans.” Frank Ancona, the Missouri-based leader of another Klan group, the Traditionalist American Knights, claimed that “niggardly politicians” had “declared WAR on our White Confederate Heroes and History.”
Barker launched a campaign asking his members and those of other Klan groups to call Memphis city council members to protest the decision, even providing Klansmen with their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Frank Ancona urged his own members to participate in “calling these degenerate scum ASAP and let’s make them sorry they ever made this ridiculous decision.” Some city council members have reported receiving such communications.
On February 14, Tamra Crowder submitted a permit on behalf of the LWK for the group’s public protest. Other white supremacists soon joined in. On March 10, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi group based in Detroit, Michigan, announced that NSM leader Jeff Schoep would speak at the Memphis event. NSM members from Texas, South Carolina and Georgia also plan to attend. The Northern Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Arkansas-based International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and the Louisiana-based neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations have all also claimed that members would attend.