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Memphis protest against the Klan

By staff |
March 31, 2013
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Riot cops at anti-KKK protest
Riot cops at anti-KKK protest (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Memphis protest against the Klan
Memphis protest against the Klan

Memphis, TN - Organizers, community members and activists from around the country converged on the city of Memphis, Tennessee on March 30 to protest the presence of the Ku Klux Klan, which held a rally on the courthouse steps. Anti-Klan protesters were met with an extreme show of force by the militarized Memphis Police Department who showed an extreme and flagrant disregard for free speech.

The anti-Klan demonstration began with a march, organized by the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality, from Court Square towards the courthouse. The march passed a ‘free speech’ cage that was surrounded by riot cops armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, shotguns, chemical weapons launchers, snipers on the rooftops and dogs. Inside the cage were a large number of people who had gathered to make their opposition to the Klan’s presence known. The march stopped briefly to deliberate and then decided to continue into the cage to join with the people already there.

A line stretched around the block to gain access to the cage because police set up a ‘free speech’ checkpoint where every person who entered the cage was made to empty their pockets, be patted down, go through a metal detector machine and then be wanded with a handheld metal detector. After this process, police officers stole all signs, flags, banners, literature, newspapers, pamphlets, flyers, umbrellas and many other items from protesters and threw them in the trash. One young student wearing a t-shirt portraying an image of Huey Newton was told by police that he must take his shirt off and turn it over to police before he could enter; when he refused he was immediately escorted out of the area by police.

After a passing this checkpoint, demonstrators, who were now stripped of their signs, were forced to walk several hundred yards through a gauntlet of riot cops standing shoulder to shoulder before entering a large parking lot surrounded on all sides by a chain link fence and a militarized police force. Just barely visible on the other side of the cage behind several rows of riot police and police on horses another several hundred yards away, the Klan stood on the courthouse steps in white hoods and robes waving racist flags.

Protesters chanted, “What do we do when Memphis is under attack? Stand up, fight back!” “Cops and Klan work hand in hand!” and “KKK out of Memphis!” Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) member Preston Gilmore said, “The Klan isn't the only white supremacist terrorist organization here in Memphis today. The Memphis Police Department is a racist terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of many mostly Black Memphians and their open protection of the Klan and harassment of protesters demanding an end to racist attacks on the city is a testament to this fact.”

Organizers from Tennessee plan to continue the fight against white supremacy on the weekend of April 5-7 in Montgomery Bell State Park in Dickson County, Tennessee. The park plans to host a major white supremacist conference that will include the Klan, neo-nazis, holocaust deniers, anti-immigration thugs and other racists and fascists. The Coalition to Shut Down AmRen will rally on April 5 and 6 outside the Montgomery Bell Park Inn and Conference Center, demanding that the racists’ conference be shut down. There will also be a counter-conference called “Not in Our State” on April 6. For more information about these actions go to: www.facebook.com/events/543463712354434