MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Get ready to cough up the cash to protest in Memphis - or have a parade, or a block party, and you can thank the Ku Klux Klan. City council members voted Tuesday to change the law to require organizations to pay half the cost of police and any other security needed.
In 1998 there were dozens of police and sheriff's deputies. The Memphis police mounted patrol came galloping through to try and break up the riot that broke out the last time the Ku Klux Klan slithered into town. This time, one city council member says in the future, either you put up a lot of money and pay for the cops or don't show up.
The steps of the civil courthouse are the general area where the Ku Klux Klan will be allowed to hold their rally on March 30th. We've heard they won't be able to use the steps; they'll have to do all their hate-hurling from street level. They might also be talking to themselves. Most people we talked to say they plan to stay far, far away.
The concern about potential violence can't go away, not until the last ugly slur is hurled by the Klan. The city will spend some money on security and the Klan won't have to pay a nickel.
This is why Memphis City Council Member Harold Collins said changes need to be made in the rules surrounding a public rally permit.
"We're only proposing the director of police services has the authority to make the determination on approving of permits for any organization - the level of security needed, the level of police officers," Collins said.
That means the more potentially controversial the organization, the bigger the possibility of violence.
Collins added, "He also has the authority to ask for a security bond or a deposit to offset the costs that will be incurred by these kinds of activities."
Walk softly, says Councilman Shea Flinn, walk softly.
"Well, anytime you bring in the first amendment you have to tread very lightly," he said.
City leaders have already agreed not to charge the Klan for security in this rally. Collins doesn't like that idea, but there's nothing he can no about it now.