Members of a Ku Klux Klan chapter will be armed Saturday as they hold a rally to protest the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Va., The Washington Post reported.
“It’s an open-carry state, so our members will be armed,” James Moore, a member of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, told the newspaper. He said the members can defend themselves if they are attacked.
Around 80 to 100 KKK members are reportedly expected to attend.
Charlottesville City Council decided earlier this year to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park in the town’s downtown area, but a court injunction has blocked its removal until a hearing in November.
Moore said the statue removal is an attempt by the city to erase the white culture right out of the history books.”
“The liberals are taking away our heritage,” Moore told the Post.
Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer and other local leaders have cautioned counter-protestors to avoid clashes with the KKK, adding that it would fuel further media coverage of the group.
“Our approach all the way through, from our police chief on down, has been to urge people not to take this totally discredited fringe organization’s putrid bait at all,” Signer said in part.
“The only thing they seem to want is division and confrontation and a twisted kind of celebrity. The most successful defiance will be to refuse to take their bait and continue to tell our story. Then their memory of Charlottesville will be of a community that repudiated them by not getting drawn into their pathetic drama.”
Signer said the city has measures in place in the event that a confrontation escalates.
“Public safety is our most sacrosanct duty to our public and our visitors,” he told the newspaper. “If any one of these people breaks any law, including those governing assault and disorderly conduct, they will be swiftly dealt with and brought to justice.”
The council’s decision comes at a time when other cities are removing Confederate monuments and facing resistance from white supremacy groups as well as individuals who are against the removal of a historic landmark.
Self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer took part in two rallies in May to protest the city’s decision to remove the monument.
BY OLIVIA BEAVERS – 07/08/17 02:44 PM EDT