MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A former Ku Klux Klan member is spreading his message of peace and love. He fears the upcoming rally will bring violence. Former Klansman Scott Shepherd wants everyone to avoid the rally. He says the KKK is just trying to get attention and stir up anger.
"Racial hatred is wrong, I learned that,” Shepherd told ABC24 News in an exclusive interview.
In 1979 he was 19 years old and very active with the KKK. He remembers and knows many of the KKK members who participated in a deadly Klan rally in Greensboro, North Carolina. He never participated in the rally, but says watching the video brought ugly memories.
"I was not happy with myself - I was full of anger and found an organization (KKK) to fulfill my inner demons,” said Shepherd.
Now, Shepherd goes around the country preaching peace and love. He says he changed his racist views years ago because of drug rehab and a surgery that almost killed him.
"I was able to sit down and have a really cold hard look of some of the issues within myself and why I was doing the things that I was doing,” he said.
Shepherd attended Tuesday's community meeting with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center to come up with ideas to avoid violent confrontation if the KKK rally this March.
"Any kind of spark, throwing things, it's going to be construed as the Klan has been attacked and that's how they got away with things. They will strike back in self defense and that's exactly what happened in Greensboro, North Carolina."
Five people died and about a dozen were injured back in 1979. People also got hurt at the 1998 KKK rally in Memphis. That's why Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says he's trying to do everything he can to avoid scenes like those.
"It is going to cost a lot for police presence,” said Director Armstrong. “There is not a dollar amount that you can put to this."
Several organizations are trying to hold a peaceful rally the same day as the KKK, but at a different location. More details on the time and location will soon be released.