Nathan Bedford Forrest Park is named after a Confederate general and early klansman, who is buried at the site. A branch of the KKK known as the Loyal White Knights intends to protest the name change on March 30, led by imperial wizard Chris Barker.
“They are renaming the park and also removing his remains,” a statement on the Loyal White Knights website reads. “We are asking all good klans to join us in the fight. Join Loyal White Knights and the Northern Mississippi White Knights and International Keystone Knights for this event.”
Memphis City Council members appear unmoved by a possible demonstration by the klan. Three name changes were approved during a Feb. 5 vote, all of which related to the Confederate States Army. The decision coincides with proposed Tennessee legislation that would prohibit parks and monuments from being named after war heroes, Civil War or otherwise.
In a possible attempt to stop the planned KKK rally, the council voted Tuesday to prevent protesters from wearing masks and costumes. According to the Guardian, the organization gained a permit allowing 180 klansmen to gather in the city, but Barker has not confirmed how many will be in attendance.
City officials and the Memphis chapter of the NAACP are ignoring the KKK gathering, believing that additional attention would only help to spread their message. During the city’s last KKK rally in 1998, a counter-rally led to a confrontation downtown. Police were forced to use tear gas to disperse the crowd, and more than a dozen people were arrested.
City Councilman Lee Harris told the Wall Street Journal that the KKK is “already a marginalized organization and we want to keep it that way.”