|Updated: 2/16 8:03 am
||Published: 2/16 8:02 am
The Ku Klux Klan has filed a permit with the city to hold a protest rally over the renaming of Memphis parks. The permit, which requests a date of Saturday, March 30 at the steps of the Memphis Courthouse, has not yet been approved.
The KKK said that "thousands" were expected in the Bluff City to protest the Memphis City Council's decision to change the name of Forrest Park, named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General in the Civil war and the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.
The park's name was temporarily changed to 'Health Sciences Park' in response to proposed state legislation that would prohibit the renaming of any park named after a war figure.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong has said although he wished the Klan would not rally in Memphis, his officers would protect them. "They have the right to voice their opinions and they have a right to freedom of speech like any other citizens," he said.
But, Armstrong added, "I think this group representing the KKK made their intentions known to go armed during this demonstration, which concerns us greatly."
The Ku Klux Klan last held a rally in Memphis on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1998, which ended with Memphis Police firing tear gas into the crowd to stop protestors from advancing on KKK members.
"Edward", an Exalted Cyclops for the KKK in the Mid-South, told ABC 24, "We plan on making a statement, we are going to come big and we are going to come strong."
The city has 10 days to respond to the permit application.