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KKK Protest Said Aimed at Memphis Plan to Disinter Klan Elder, Rename Park

Image: KKK Protest Said Aimed at Memphis Plan to Disinter Klan Elder, Rename Park Visitors take pictures of a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest on his horse at a park originally named after the confederate cavalryman in Memphis, Tennessee.

By Alexandra Ward   |   Thursday, 21 Mar 2013 12:36 PM

Members of a division of the Ku Klux Klan say they are planning to rally in Memphis, Tenn., later this month to protest the city council's decision to remove a former Klansman's remains and name from a public park.

The Loyal White Knights, a North Carolina-based faction of the KKK, are accusing the Memphis city council of trying to erase white history from the history books when they voted to rename Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. Forrest, a lieutenant general in the Confederate army, is widely believed to have been the first KKK grand wizard.

"They are renaming the park and also removing his remains," said a statement on the group's website. "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."

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The Memphis city council voted Feb. 5 to change the names of three public parks — Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park, named for the Confederacy's president, and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. The new names are Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park, and Health Sciences Park, respectively, though the council may change those names later, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The council's move was in response to a bill moving through the Tennessee Legislature that would prohibit local governments from changing names of any parks or monuments named for wars or war heroes, including those involving the Civil War.

"To me, it seems like every couple of months they are always trying to remove something to do with the Confederacy or white heritage," Chris Barker, who said he is the "imperial wizard" of the Loyal White Knights, told the New York Daily News.

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The last KKK rally in downtown Memphis, held in 1998, led to a counter-rally in which about 20 people were arrested and police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of about 500.

The protest is scheduled for March 30 on the steps of Memphis's federal courthouse building.

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