NORTH CAROLINA- Saturday, Dec. 3 a KKK-affiliated white supremacist group paraded in Roxboro, NC, opposed by over a hundred protesters and sparking reactions across political lines.
The Loyal White Knights (LWK), based out of Pelham, NC, announced a ‘Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade’ in their hometown celebrating the presidential election of Donald Trump. The parade was originally announced for 9 a.m. that morning, somewhere near Pelham, according to LWK Spokesman John Roberts.
The LWK are classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and espouse views including white and Christian supremacy, anti-LGBT, and anti-Semitism.
Roberts did not answer requests for pre-parade comments, and would not release time and location details in advance.
The parade announcement was met with negative reactions in North Carolina, with responses issued by the NC GOP, NC NAACP, and the NC ACLU.
“We are disgusted and condemn this extremist ideology and associated actions in the strongest possible terms,” NC GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said in a CNN statement. “These acts and thought processes are no reflection of the heartbeat of this great country and are counter to the efforts to make America great again. We stand with the Democratic Party in calling these out-of-state troublemakers to go home.”
“We condemn the KKK’s abhorrent, hateful and racist views in the strongest possible terms,” said NC ACLU Communications Director Mike Meno. “We are also extremely concerned by the surge in reports of harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation across the country. While free speech and peaceful assembly, no matter how ugly and hateful, are protected for all by the U.S. Constitution, harassment, violence, and threats are not.”
“The fact that avowed white supremacists are celebrating in 2016 speaks volumes about our current political environment and the nature of the messages, actions, and promises being made by those about to assume the highest levels of government power,” Meno concluded.
The Trump campaign also released a statement condemning the Klan gathering.
“Mr. Trump and his team continue to disavow these groups and individuals and strongly condemn their message of hate,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks stated.
A multitude of protesters from across the state attended, accompanied by a large media congregation with reporters from across the US.
The protests focused on opposing the Klan, and demonstrating that their ideals were no longer acceptable.
“It’s important to show that hate is not okay,” protester Ace said, “They have the right to assemble, we have the right to oppose them.”
“The Klan is not as toothless as people like to think,” protester Kimberly L said. “They’re quiet, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there, that they’re not spreading.”
Many expressed concern at the Klan’s continued existence, and desired to oppose them.
“I felt compelled [to protest]… In the 16 years I’ve lived in North Carolina I’ve felt the climate devolve racially, politically,” protester Natalie Brown said. “I have two children, and I am not willing to see this country go the way it seems to be going without putting up a fight.”
“There is a need to confront the racism directly… We cannot take a passive approach,” Brown continued. “I want minds and hearts to change.”
“Never count the Klan out,” protester Chris Thomas said. “Just when you think they’re done they come back.”
“The change I want to make is to let [Klan-targeted people] know that I stand with them,” Thomas continued. “And maybe let some of the people who are in the Klan know that it doesn’t have to be this way.”
After approximately an hour of waiting for the Klan to appear, the protest group marched on Red Marshall Road and Arthur Carter Lane. Marchers chanted a number of slogans, including “Donald Trump, go away, sexist – racist – anti-gay” and “No hate, no fear, the KKK’s not welcome here.”
Police were present during the march, redirecting traffic away from the protest group.
After more time passed with no Klan in sight, the protesters moved into nearby Danville, VA. There they marched without incident on Main St to the Old West End neighborhood, by then numbering over 100 strong.
The LWK ultimately never showed in Pelham, instead rallying in Roxboro, 40 minutes from Pelham. A parade with approximately 20 cars bearing American, Confederate, and Klan emblems passed through the town, with drivers shouting white supremacist slogans out of car windows.
The main street was blocked off to allow the parade to pass through intersections quickly, with police having only an hour’s notice to prepare. The parade lasted around five minutes.
The Roxboro Police Department released a press statement condemning the Klan and advocating for communal peace and tolerance.
“We owe it to the community to make sure limited exposure and potential acts of violence are minimized. I, nor you, want anyone regardless of color being physically hurt,” Roxboro Police Chief David L. Hess said in the statement. “To insure the public’s safety today, we blocked several intersections to make their convey through the city move quickly. This event was not something the Roxboro Police desired to have in our city, and could not legally prevent.”
On the morning of the parade, two Klan leaders, LWK Grand Dragon William Hagen and Klan member Chris Barker, were arrested for stabbing fellow Klansman Richard Dillon in Yanceyville, NC.
Dillon stated that the attack was in response to an argument between him and Hagen over an Anaheim rally’s lack of security.
The KKK has been associated in part with the recent ‘alt-right’ movement, with comparisons in ideology drawn between the Klan and the alt-right.
“The group has become part of the fabric that extends all the way into the alt-right,” said Dr. Brian Levine, California State University Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism Director. “The Klan is really hooking into the euro-nationalism of the alt-right. When I asked those Klansmen who they supported, they said Trump.”