The most notorious hate group in America will rally in support of the Confederate Flag in July, amid a national debate about flag's place in modern society and racially-motivated violence.
A North Carolina-based chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, the Loyal White Knights, reserved space on the State House grounds in Columbia, South Carolina, the state confirmed to msnbc, for Jully 18th, 31 days after a man sympathetic to white supremacist groups killed nine people at a historically black Charleston church in what appears to have been a racially-motivated massacre.
"The flag ain't all racist, the Klan ain't all racist," Ku Klux Klan member James Spears told msnbc, saying that the Civil War was "not over slavery but over taxes, anybody who pick up a history book can tell that [sic]."
The event will gather Klansmen and supporters for speeches on the State House grounds from 3-5 p.m. Later in the evening after moving to private property, they'll set a cross on fire; the "cross lighting," as Spears call it, is said by Klansmen to be a symbol of the KKK's Christian faith, but it has historically been used to intimidate African-Americans.
Spears said the Charleston massacre was being used "to try and erase white people out of the history books."
“We will be at the state house in Columbia, South Carolina standing up for our confederate history,” an answering machine tied to the KKK’s Loyal White Knights chapter said Tuesday morning. The group claims to be the largest Klan group in the country, though the chapter's Great Titan James Spears could not estimate how many members that includes.
He said he's had 286 calls since Saturday night when the group began advertising the rally. "We're getting a lot of calls from white Americans saying the same thing, that they're fed up," Spears told msnbc.
The flag -- the most iconic symbol of the South's Confederacy and resistance to the abolition of slavery -- still flies over South Carolina's Capitol, but many called for its removal after the massacre. Hundreds of thousands signed petitions protesting its public display and politicians on both sides of the aisle called for it to be removed, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. The state legislature has the votes permanently remove the flag, the Post and Courier reported after a survey of lawmakers, and could vote on the issue as early as July 6th.
“Our government is trying to erase white culture and history right out of the history books. If you’re tired of all the liberals and nonsense that’s being spewed out by your leaders and government, please stand with us on July 18th 2015,” the recording said. “If you’re white and proud, join the crowd.”
The Klan chapter reserved the north side of the State House Grounds facing Main Street, a spokesman for the State House said Tuesday.