The white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan is reportedly cleared to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at the South Carolina capitol.
Less than two weeks ago on the night of June 17, 21-year old Dylan Roof shot and killed nine members of a black church in what is described as a hate crime. The young white man had posted a racist manifesto online in addition to photos of himself holding a Confederate flag.
The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church led to a heated debate about the Confederate flag and whether to cease displaying it.
Also known as the rebel flag, Dixie flag, and Southern cross, this version never represented the Confederate States of America but was adopted as a battle flag during the American Civil War.
In the wake of the shootings, the flag’s perception as a racist symbol - of a past tainted with slavery and later, with segregation - led South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to call for the removal of the rebel flag from statehouse grounds.
Haley told the Post and Courier that she did not endorse the Klan’s planned rally. An application filed by the “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the KKK was approved by the South Carolina Budget and Control Board.
Budget and Control Board spokesman Brian Gaines told the Post and Courier that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.
The state capitol in Columbia, South Carolina, about 185 km northwest of Charleston - the scene of the shooting - is scheduled to host the Klan rally on July 18.
“It should be a peaceful rally,” said James Spears, the Great Titan of the Loyal White Knights. “We usually have pretty peaceful rallies.”
Spears told WIS in Colombia that while he has sympathy for Dylann Roof’s nine victims, he will rally in support of flying the Confederate flag in every Southern state.
“Our Grand Dragon lives 20 minutes from the State House, where the flag’s at,” Spears said. “That’s where we’ll be holding a cross lighting at the end of the night.”
The Klan, clad in white robes and pointed hoods, is known for its acts of violence and intimidation against black people since after the US Civil War, including cross burnings and lynchings.
The Post and Courier reported that an answering machine for the South Carolina Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan referred to Roof as a “warrior.”
Aryan Nations leader Morris Gulett also praised Roof after news broke about the young man’s arrest. “I, for one, am very glad to see young people like DYlann Roof acting like men instead of the old 60s era hippies stoned on weed and interracial love,” he wrote on his website.
“We had better see much more of this type of activism if we ever expect to see our America return to it’s [sic] rightful place in the world and our children grow up in a clean safe healthy enviroment [sic],” Gulett said.