MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The NAACP wants Memphians to stay home and ignore the Ku Klux Klan when the group comes to town next month.
Last week the KKK applied for a permit to rally on March 30th. The Klan wants to protest the renaming of three Memphis city parks, including one named after the KKK’s first grand wizard.
Now the NAACP and other organizations are rallying together to figure out how to peacefully respond to the KKK.
"We're not going to protest their right to peacefully assemble,” said NAACP President of the Memphis Chapter, Rev. Keith Norman. “We're also going to ask the citizens to stand down on that particular day."
Other organizations say that's not going to happen.
"There's going to be people at this thing to cause problems, it's going to happen," said Evergreen District One Neighborhood Association Vice President John Buffaloe.
Buffaloe is teaming up with the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center and other organizations to figure out how to respond to the Ku Klux Klan.
"We want to make the focus on this that we can live together in racial harmony and not that everybody in the south is a bigot,” said Buffaloe. “We're leaning towards having our rally at a separate location."
The KKK plans to protest in downtown Memphis after city council changed the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. Forrest was a Confederate General in the Civil War and the first grand wizard of the KKK. The last Klan rally in Memphis was in 1998 and it ended with violence and tear gas.
“We plan on making a statement. We are going to come big and we are going to come strong,” said “Edward”, an Exalted Cyclops with the KKK, on February 7. “The last time we were here there was a big riot. This time, the Klan will be prepared in the thousands."
Klan leaders should know sometime this week if their permit to rally is approved. The NAACP hopes people will ignore the Klan and stay home on March 30th.
"If no one responds then they have no message to put out. They're here to engage you in some type of argument but if you refuse to argue then they have to go home,” said NAACP Executive Director Madeleine Taylor.
There will be two public meetings to talk about how to peacefully respond to the KKK. The first meeting is Tuesday, February 19 at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church, located at 7289 Highway 64 Memphis, TN 38133, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center and Common Ground will facilitate the meeting. Snacks and beverages will be provided. You can RSVP at email@example.com
The second community meeting will be this Friday at the University of Memphis at 5 p.m. It will take place in the Arts and Communications building directly across from the Holiday Inn on Central Avenue.