Nathan Bedford Forrest was a slave trader and the Confederate lieutenant general responsible for the 1864 massacre of black troops at the Battle of Fort Pillow. A public park in Memphis Tennessee will no longer bear his name after a city council vote, and the KKK is planning a protest rally in response.
The demonstration, scheduled for March 30, is announced on the Loyal White Knights website, calling members to a “public march for Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue."
“They are renaming the park and also removing his remains. We are asking all good klans to join us in the fight. Join Loyal White Knights and the Northern Mississippi White Knights and International Keystone Knights for this event.”
Chris Barker, who said he was the “imperial wizard” of the Loyal White Knights told the Guardian that the name change was an example of “trying to erase white history from the history books."
But the rally may fizzle, as Memphis city council also voted 13-0 Tuesday to ban the wearing of masks “for the purpose of civil rights intimidation” at parades and public assemblies. The same proposal would require groups from outside Memphis to cover the cost of additional police security.
Some reports have suggested up to 2,000 members could protest in Memphis, but Barker said there would not be that many. The Southern Poverty Law Center said "it would be a surprise if the event drew 40 Klansmen, and it will likely be considerably fewer than that."
After the February vote, the park will be called the Health Sciences Park until a permanent name is selected. Memphis city council also renamed Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park, in a vote hastened by a bill in the Tennessee legislature that would have forbidden the renaming of military or war memorial parks.