Black church rightful owner of KKK store, judge says

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012 2:06 PM
Last updated 2:50 PM
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COLUMBIA — After a lengthy legal battle between a black South Carolina church and members of the Ku Klux Klan, a judge has ruled that the church owns a building where KKK robes and T-shirts are sold.

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The Rev. David Kennedy (right) looked at items in John Howard's The Redneck Shop in Laurens, S.C., in 2008. A judge has ruled that Kennedy's church, the New Beginnings Baptist Church, is the rightful owner of the building where the shop is located. The church sued Howard and others in 2008, saying the property was transferred to the church in 1997 by a Klansman fighting with others in the group.  File/Associated Press
File/Associated Press
The Rev. David Kennedy (right) looked at items in John Howard's The Redneck Shop in Laurens, S.C., in 2008. A judge has ruled that Kennedy's church, the New Beginnings Baptist Church, is the rightful owner of the building where the shop is located. The church sued Howard and others in 2008, saying the property was transferred to the church in 1997 by a Klansman fighting with others in the group.

A circuit judge ruled last month that New Beginnings Baptist Church is the rightful owner of the building that houses the Redneck Shop, which operates a so-called Klan museum and sells Klan robes and T-shirts emblazoned with racial slurs. The judge ordered the shop’s proprietor to pay the church’s legal bills of more than $3,300.

Since 1996, the Redneck Shop has operated in an old movie theater in Laurens, a city about 70 miles northwest from Columbia that was named after 18th century slave trader Henry Laurens.

Ownership of the building was transferred in 1997 to the Rev. David Kennedy and his church, New Beginnings, by a Klansman fighting with others inside the hate group, according to court records. But a clause in the deed entitles John Howard, formerly KKK grand dragon for the Carolinas, to operate his business in the building until he dies.

After years of trying to have the property inspected, Kennedy and New Beginnings sued Howard and others in 2008. On Dec. 9, a judge ruled in Kennedy’s favor.

There was no answer at the store’s telephone number Tuesday, and Howard’s attorney did not immediately return a message.

Howard has defended his business in the past.

“If anything turns people off, they shouldn’t come in here,” Howard told The Associated Press in 2008. “It’s not a thing in here that’s against the law.”

The Redneck Shop has been the target of protests and attacks from the start. A few days after it opened, a Columbia man crashed his van through the front windows and was charged with malicious damage to property. High profile black activists have staged several protests outside the store, and Kennedy has regularly picketed there.

Kennedy has a long history of fighting racial injustice. He protested when a South Carolina county refused to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and he helped lobby to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome.

Kennedy said Tuesday his congregation was elated by the judge’s decision, which he said he had already discussed with local police in hopes of being able to visit and inspect the property this week.

“It has been a long time coming,” said Kennedy, who learned of the ruling this week. “We knew we had done everything right. … The court knows that we have suffered.”

Kennedy said his congregation’s numbers have decreased in recent years as some of its 200 members became fearful of reprisals from Klan members. Nazi and Confederate symbols have been tacked to the door of the double-wide mobile home where New Beginnings now meets, Kennedy said, and dead animals have been left at the building.

“A lot of people became so afraid,” Kennedy said. “I just told them that it is part of our faith to endure.”

Kennedy, who has previously said he would like to close the store and hold his church meetings there, declined Tuesday to detail his plans, saying only that he thought some parishioners would feel uncomfortable worshipping in the structure that once segregated moviegoers and now sells Klan-related materials.

“I don’t count anything out,” Kennedy said. “I think that the church would do good in that building.”

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Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 01/04/12 - 01:34 am
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I agree Asitisinaug.

I agree Asitisinaug. Completely disgusting behavior.

lifelongresident
1323
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lifelongresident 01/04/12 - 09:25 am
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what better irony would it be
Unpublished

what better irony would it be to allow the store to operate (within their free speech rights under the constitution), but now having to pay rent to their "black" landlord......picture this they are having their usual meeting and prior to ajurning the treasuer reminds the grand dragon/kleagle/cyclops (or whatever he calls himself) "don't forget to drop of the rent payment to rev. kennedy"...or how about this one "hey sir, rev kennedy's here to collect the rent".....what a hoot that would be

iLove
626
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iLove 01/04/12 - 10:21 am
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0
Do you see the mindest of
Unpublished

Do you see the mindest of CERTAIN people? Dead animals other scare tactics, and people want to crack jokes about a simple misspelling. . . .anything to distract.

Black Panthers vs. KKK.....hmmm....why even compare when this article is CLEARLY about the KKK and the things they STILL do to scare and intimidate black people.

I pray for protection for the memebrs of the church because you know how they (KKK) love to retaliate....anyone old enough to remember the house Glenn Hills Drive next to the KKK cemetary? If you drive by, you can STILL see the charred wood.....20+ years later. Gosh I love Augusta.

JRC2024
8879
Points
JRC2024 01/04/12 - 10:37 am
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0
Didn't know there was a KKK

Didn't know there was a KKK cemetary on Glenn Hills Drive. I go on that street all the time and have been for a long long time. Where is it. I put the Black Panthers and the KKK in the same catagory. All are hate loveing sorry worthless people that I would never want to be around. Gosh, I do love Augusta because it has been good for me for my working life of 41 years so far.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 01/04/12 - 11:31 am
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0
How many cemetaries are on
Unpublished

How many cemetaries are on GHDr.?

Please research why the Black Panthers were started. . . .vs how the KKK originated.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 01/04/12 - 11:43 am
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0
Comparison serves as a

Comparison serves as a distraction, best to focus on elimination of such activities.

madgerman
236
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madgerman 01/04/12 - 11:44 am
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Points to ponder. 1. 200
Unpublished

Points to ponder.
1. 200 people in a double wide - would seem a little tight.
2. Who owns the property - the pastor or the church?
3. Why does a church need a tax exempt property miles from where worship services are held?
4. If the services were transfered, would the 200 members move to the new location or just drive the hundreds of miles to services weekly?

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