Georgia denies KKK application to “Adopt-A-Highway” program

ATLANTA — A Ku Klux Klan group in Georgia lost its bid Tuesday to join the state’s highway cleanup program, but a legal challenge to the decision may be looming.

ATLANTA — A Ku Klux Klan group in Georgia lost its bid Tuesday to join the state’s highway cleanup program, but a legal challenge to the decision may be looming. Similar groups in other states have won legal battles after initially being turned down for highway cleanup programs.

The International Keystone Knights of the KKK in Union County applied last month to the “Adopt-A-Highway” program, hoping to clean up along part of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains. The state program enlists civic groups, companies and other volunteers to pick up trash, and the groups are recognized with a sign along the road they adopt.

Transportation Department officials met with lawyers from the state Attorney General’s Office on Monday and also consulted with Gov. Nathan Deal. The agency said Tuesday it would deny the KKK group’s application, adding that the program is aimed at “civic-minded organizations in good standing.”

“Participation in the program should not detract from its worthwhile purpose,” the department’s statement reads. “Promoting an organization with a history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern to the department. Issuing this permit would have the potential to negatively impact the quality of life, commerce and economic development of Union County and all of Georgia.”

The statement went on to explain that motorists who drive past signs promoting the KKK or who see members picking up trash could be distracted — creating a safety issue — and that the section of highway the group wanted to adopt is ineligible because of its 55 mph (88 kph) speed limit.

The group said they wanted to preserve the area’s scenic beauty. Harley Hanson, a member of the KKK group whose wife sent the application, said Tuesday that the International Keystone Knights’ national leadership is considering legal action.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 rejected Missouri’s attempt to turn down a controversial group’s application, saying membership in the program cannot be denied because of a group’s political beliefs. In Kentucky, the transportation department accepted a white-separatist group’s contract to participate in the state’s highway cleanup program, fearing an unsuccessful legal battle.

An emailed request for comment from the Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Hanson insisted the group’s aim was to beautify the highway, not to seek attention. He also said the move might help recast the image of the Klan beyond its racist and violent past.

“We can’t change what happened, but we can still work for a better tomorrow,” Hanson said, adding that the group does food drives and has collected toys for Christmas. “It was not just to warn people, ‘Hey, the KKK lives next door,’ but to do some good for the community.”

Critics balked at the move as little more than an offensive publicity stunt. State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who raised objections to the application, hailed the DOT decision as the right thing to do.

“They make the point we’ve been making: This is not a group that really qualifies as a civic organization,” said Brooks, a civil rights activist who experienced Klan violence in the segregated South.

“It’s a terrorist organization. This is the right decision, and I commend the Department of Transportation for reaching a decision in due speed.”

Just Posted

Red Deer convenience store robbed at gunpoint

Police still searching for suspect who robbed 7-Eleven at 40th Avenue and 38th Street

2019 Winter Games seeks artisan vendors

A winter market will be set up on the 2019 Canada Winter Games festival grounds

Kick It To The Curb back next month

Great way to get rid of unwanted stuff

City of Red Deer invests $50,000 in CFR opening ceremony

Several councillors warn it’s a one-time deal

UPDATED: Stretching for a good cause at Central Alberta Yogathon in Red Deer

Funds raised go to Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre

Glad company: Trailer for Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

LOS ANGELES — A beloved nanny is preparing to take to the… Continue reading

Jeremy Dutcher wins Polaris prize for ‘Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa’

TORONTO — Jeremy Dutcher has won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports manufacturing sales rose 0.9 per cent in July

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales increased 0.9 per cent in… Continue reading

China raises tariffs on $60B of US goods in technology fight

BEIJING — China on Tuesday announced a tariff hike on $60 billion… Continue reading

Ennis hoping to rejuvenate career with Leafs after getting bought out by Wild

TORONTO — Tyler Ennis has had to prove doubters wrong much of… Continue reading

Champ golfer from Spain killed in Iowa; suspect charged

AMES, Iowa — A man has been charged in the killing of… Continue reading

Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang for potentially tough talks

PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People’s Republic Of — South Korean President Moon Jae-in… Continue reading

Russia blames Israel for plane shot down by Syrian missile

MOSCOW — A Russian reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by a Syrian… Continue reading

Most Read