Memphis Police Department successful in keeping KKK rally 'civil - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Memphis Police Department successful in keeping KKK rally 'civil'

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(WMC-TV) - The KKK had a First Amendment right to rally. Memphis Police and supporting agencies had a duty to keep things civil. In the end, police said their plan was a success.

Roughly 60 Klan members gathered on the steps of the Shelby County courthouse after being bused in from the Pyramid.

Their rhetoric was drowned out by the rain and a supposedly faulty megaphone. But retired judge and civil rights leader D'Army Bailey heard enough to know it was the same old song and dance.

"I think they have small kids they're teaching this wretched hatred. But they're smaller in number now," said Bailey.

Meanwhile, hundreds of law enforcement officers, including SWAT and K-9 units, controlled the impenetrable perimeter. It kept some 1,200 counter protesters from clashing with the Klan.

"Our overwhelming show of force certainly deterred anybody who came down with ill intent," said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

Armstrong was injured working the last Klan rally in 1998, and was committed as the current top cop to stopping a repeat situation.

Mayor A C Wharton said the lack of injury and property damage Saturday is proof things worked – unlike a similar rally 15 years ago.

"We in Memphis and Shelby County and in this region took what could have been the worst of times and turned it into the best of times, in terms of dealing with dissent even when the voices are voices we're not pleased with," said Wharton.

Memphis Police said they made just one arrest. The person in custody is a counter protester from Michigan who was charged with disorderly conduct.

Other than that, MPD reports no injuries and no property damage.

Police ended Saturday with a successful plan of action in case the Klan ever comes back.

Director Armstrong will have exact numbers on total officers and the dollars in the coming days.

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