KKK to protest Memphis park name changes

March 21, 2013 at 3:46 PM
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MEMPHIS, March 21 (UPI) -- The Ku Klux Klan, accusing Memphis of trying to take "white people out of the history books," said it will stage a protest against the renaming of three parks.

The Memphis City Council voted in February to change Confederate Park to Memphis Park, Jefferson Davis Park, honoring the president of the Confederacy, to Mississippi River Park, and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park. Forrest was both a Confederate general and a founder of the KKK and its first grand wizard.

The council took action to get ahead of a bill currently under consideration in the Tennessee Legislature that would ban local governments from changing the names of parks named after war heroes -- including those who fought for the South in the Civil War, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

"Every time we turn around, they are trying to take the white people out of the history books," Chris Barker, imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told the Journal.

Memphis officials have urged residents to ignore the rally.

Councilman Lee Harris said counter-protests only draw attention to the KKK, which he said is "already a marginalized organization and we want to keep it that way."

In 1998, the last time the KKK held a demonstration in Memphis, a black-majority city, 500 people showed up for a counter-rally and 20 were arrested.

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