Klan stages protest in Poplarville

Published 5:28 pm Monday, April 16, 2007

POPLARVILLE — A rainy day did not keep the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan from rallying in front of the Poplarville courthouse on Saturday, apparently to raise awareness of illegal immigrants and sex offenders. The group was met with some minor resistance by one man armed with a video camera.

The group claimed their main focus was to be sex offenders, illegal immigrants and to put prayer back in the classrooms, said KKK member Richard Greene, who was dressed in blue KKK attire with five yellow ranking stripes on the sleeves, possibly signifying he is the Imperial Wizard of the group.

Some members of the group had their faces revealed while Greene and some others had their faces covered as they handed out literature, which consisted of a collection of sex offenders and information concerning illegal aliens killing 12 Americans a day on average.

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Greene said the influx of illegal aliens has lead to an increase in the number of sex offenders in the area.

“They seem to go hand in hand these days,” Greene said.

The literature Greene and his fellow group members handed out listed 15 people as sex offenders, all but one had the word “white” listed next to the race category.

While there were only 15 sex offenders listed on the packet handed out by Klansmen, Greene said there are 68 registered sex offenders in Pearl River County. He said 200 of the illegal immigrants coming across the border everyday are sex offenders. When asked where Greene received his information, he said from the Internet. Greene did not cite a specific Internet site.

A visit to the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan site reveals their illegal immigration focus is on people coming from Mexico.

In spite of the rain there was a large community turnout in front of the Poplarville courthouse. Greene said he was pleased with the high turnout.

Other members of the community were not so pleased with the gathering. Ann Hart, an African American, was not pleased to see the KKK in her area.

“When it’s all said and done and the rapture comes, we can’t be separated,” Hart said.

She said she is concerned about the impact the Klan’s presence will have on the community and suspects there will be issues at the schools because children today do not understand racism.

“…they get to let somebody from another town come in here and start this mess,” Hart said. “It’s sickening, it really is. It’s sickening.”

Poplarville Police Chief Charlie Fazande said the last KKK gathering in Poplarville was about 12 years ago. Even with the rain this was the largest turnout he has seen for such a gathering, Fazande said. At the first gathering none of the community members even acknowledged the group’s presence, he said.

At this meeting people did take notice. Some black community members even posed in front of the KKK to get their friends to take pictures. Another black man, Ishmael Briggs, was vocal about his opposition to the Klan’s presence. Armed with a video camera and some literature to hand out, he loudly asked a series of questions where three answers were possible, Klansmen, Illegal Immigrants and Child Molesters.

A black man dressed in a rain dampened confederate flag was on hand to provide the answers to Briggs questions shouted to the crowd and the Klan. Questions that implied positive answers were answered with illegal immigrants while questions with negative answers were answered with Klansmen by the man draped in the flag.

Briggs’ presence and questions prompted the Klansmen to shout, “white power” in defiance. The situation never escalated beyond the voicing of differing opinions, possibly due to the increase in rain or the large number of law enforcement presence from all three county agencies.

The event was scheduled to begin at noon and Fazande said the event was scheduled to end at 1 p.m., but the Klansmen and public left at about 12:45 as the downpour increased.

The rally came almost 48 years to the day after a black man was arrested in Poplarville, accused of raping a white woman.

Ten days later, the man, Mack Charles Parker, was taken from the ail by men dressed in white hoods and robes and was kileld by the mob.

Officials with Saturday’s rally said there was no connection to the date chosen for their rally coinciding with the anniversary of the lynching.