Due to some decisions made by Memphis leaders, the Ku Klux Klan is planning a rally in Memphis for March 30. The Memphis City Council recently decided to rename three main parks that memorialize the confederate leaders from the Civil War, one of whom also founded the Ku Klux Klan. One of the parks in debate, Forrest Park (named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Ku Klux Klan grand wizard) will be renamed Health Sciences Park.
Forrest, a lieutenant general in the confederate army during the Civil War, became known as “The Wizard of The Saddle” and earned several confederate victories, including one in Fort Pillow near Memphis. However, the decision to change this park name is due to the past actions of Forrest, known primarily for his role in the foundation of the KKK.
While the KKK group of The Loyal White Knights has planned to protest “peacefully” to prevent the changes to the park name, their decision to hold this rally has caused other actions involving the possibility of charging groups to apply for a permit, a permit necessary to hold a public rally.
The Permit for this rally has been applied for and approved; however, the group does have to follow a few guidelines.
Police Director Toney Armstrong addressed some of the stipulations of the permit.
“Certainly I cannot allow (armed) people walking around this city with masks or concealing their identity, even if you have a handgun carry permit, because I have no way of knowing who you are,” Armstrong said.
With the denial of weapons and hoods, council member Shea Flynn said members must be careful to not curtail free expression.
“You are having some real potential for government suppression of speech here, and I want to make sure we’re not way on the other side of that,” Flynn said.
Armstrong assured that the police department is working to finalize preparations for the Klan’s arrival.
“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 said.