MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - If the Ku Klux Klan rallies in Memphis the group will have to follow tight guidelines. City Council members held a closed door meeting with lawyers and the police director Tuesday afternoon to discuss what restrictions can be imposed on the KKK. One of them may be forcing members to rally without their infamous hoods.
When you think about the KKK the first thing you picture are the hoods and masks worn over faces. For safety reasons, the council is considering not allowing masks at the rally. It's one of many restrictions that could be in place if the permit is approved.
"First and foremost we will look at what we need to do to ensure public safety," stated MPD Director Toney Armstrong.
The KKK is promising its largest rally ever on March 30th in Memphis. The group is expecting thousands of members from across the country to protest the renaming of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park and two other Confederate-related parks in Memphis.
In 1998, the last time the KKK rallied in Memphis, it was chaos. Director Armstrong says the council, appropriately, has concerns regarding the permit.
"This is a unique situation, with all the freedom of speech rights that we have. We have to be careful and tread lightly, because we don't want to do something that would come back and we would regret later."
The council is considering changes to the permit ordinance. It would include the inability to march with masks over faces, they would not be allowed to gather with concealed weapons, and Memphis police could seek payment for their service.
Armstrong stated, "I have to know who you are. If you are armed I have to know who you are. I cannot allow people to walk around this city with masks or concealing identity, even if you have a handgun carry permit, because I have no way of knowing who you are."
Armstrong says they are working quickly to finalize the details of the permit. He is in talks with other municipality departments to make sure there are enough officers to protect the people.
"I think we are obligated to provide police protection and certainly you can look at all the nuisances associated with this, it would be wise for us to do all we can to protect the public."
Armstrong says the city can still deny the permit. He says at this point they have no idea how much this rally could cost the city.