MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Ku Klux Klan has filed a permit with the city to hold a protest rally over the renaming of Memphis parks. The permit, which requests a date of Saturday, March 30 at the steps of the Memphis Courthouse, has not yet been approved.
"I just hope the police and everything be ready," said Brandon, who declined to give his last name. "I'm just going to stay in."
The KKK said that "thousands" were expected in the Bluff City to protest the Memphis City Council's decision to change the name of Forrest Park, named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General in the Civil war and the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.
The park's name was temporarily changed to 'Health Sciences Park' in response to proposed state legislation that would prohibit the renaming of any park named after a war figure.
"We will be ready. We will do what we have to do to address all of the security concerns," said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.
On Friday night, Armstrong repeated his stance that although he wished the Klan would not rally in Memphis, his officers would protect them.
Armstrong says he's already started coordinating with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, and plans to work with other agencies, including on the federal level.
"Even though you have a March 30th date, that is not a lot of time to prepare for something as massive as we are expecting," Armstrong said.
"They are advertising it as one of the largest KKK rallies of all time, if that is true, I don't know. We will certainly prepare, as if it will be the largest one," he added.
The Ku Klux Klan last held a rally in Memphis on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1998, which ended with Memphis Police firing tear gas into the crowd to stop protestors from advancing on KKK members.
"Edward", an Exalted Cyclops for the KKK in the Mid-South, told ABC 24, "We plan on making a statement, we are going to come big and we are going to come strong."
On Friday night, he said the group was already working on a plan B should the City reject its permit. He said the group already has a lawyer lined up.
The city has 10 days to respond to the permit application.
"I look above, and I put it in his hands, and he's going to make sure everything goes well, " said Nathanial Dapney, a Memphis resident.