A south Georgia town has denied a Ku Klux Klan group's request to use the City Hall parking lot for a rally to raise public awareness on sex offenders, illegal immigration and prayer in school.
Grand Dragon Gregg Wolf of the Knight Riders, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, went before the Nahunta City Council on Monday seeking a permit to hold the rally from noon until 2 p.m. Feb. 20, at the parking lot.
City Attorney James Kelly Brooks said he informed Wolf on Friday that Nahunta was denying the group's request.
"You're talking about a place that has not been a public forum," Brooks said of the small parking lot facing U.S. Highway 301.
Brooks also told Georgia The Times-Union newspaper the city had no alternative meeting place to offer.
"The city doesn't have a piece of property, a park or tract, that has been deemed a place for this type of activity," Brooks said.
Wolf said he would consult with the Knight Riders' lawyer, but regardless of what Nahunta or the Brantley County Commission decides, KKK members will be in Nahunta Feb. 20.
The County Commission had already turned down the request, because roof construction and other renovations at the courthouse would make the grounds unusable, Chairman Ronald Ham said.
"We offered [Wolf] three alternate locations, all county recreational facilities, but he said, 'No,' they wanted the [courthouse] backdrop," Ham said.
The group must apply for a county permit if it wants to use a different location, or if it changes the date it wants to use the courthouse. The county will need "at least a couple of weeks" advance notice, Ham said, so it can arrange to have proper security in place.
"The constitution allows the right to free speech and peaceful assembly, but I would appreciate it if the group would have the courtesy of working with us," Ham said.
The rally, however, already has been announced on the group's Web site.
"It's only two hours," Wolf said of the planned rally. "We're going to be there. We're not asking to parade down the street. We just want to speak on the problems we're having in this country."
Asked why the group had chosen Brantley County for the rally, Wolf said, "Because of the percentage of the population."
He said Brantley County is predominantly white and should be a perfect place to speak on the continuing problems with illegal immigration.
Wolf told council members the rally would be against pedophiles, child molesters, illegal immigration and "two other things," which he did not specify, Mayor Ronnie Jacobs said Friday.
Any appeal of the denial would likely have to undertaken in court, Jacobs said.
Wolf said a notice of the rally has gone out to Knight Riders organizations in other states and it will go forward.
"People all the way from Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma are going to be here," he said.
The group needs only the corner of a lot for speakers to air their views, Wolf said.
Wolf, who lives in Blakely, said the Knight Riders have state organizations in Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas and Missouri.
"This is the first time in my time here that we've had the Klan or other group ask to do this here," Jacobs said.
In spite of Wolf's assurances the organization is not violent, some residents said they fear the rally would incite violence.
"We don't need that kind of trouble here," said Jude Conrad of Nahunta. "If the KKK comes, then the people against them will come and the only thing that will come out of that is a big mess."
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