On Tuesday, a Georgia chapter of the Klu Klux Klan was denied participation in the state’s highway cleanup program. However, the International Keystone Knights of the KKK in the Union County has threatened to go to court over the denial. The group applied last month to Georgia’s “Adopt-A-Highway” program, desiring to clean up part of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains. The state program allows groups who adopt parts of highways to display their signs along that part of the road. But the state turned down the application of IKK of KKK because they think motorists who drive past signs promoting Klu Klux Klan or see KKK members picking up trash could be distracted and cause safety issues given its “history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest.”
The statement issued by the Transportation Department of Georgia mentions, “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.”
Harley Hanson, a member of the KKK group, whose wife sent the application, told the media that the group was considering legal action. Hanson added, “If this does go into a litigation situation, the state really cannot afford to be wasting the money on something based on somebody else’s beliefs … It’s saddening, really.” The KKK has a chance to win this round considering that in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court had rejected Missouri’s attempt to refuse the application of a controversial group, and the court held that membership to the civic program could not be denied due to the group’s political beliefs. Similarly, in Kentucky, the transportation department accepted the contract of a white-separatist group in the highway cleanup program, after the group threatened legal action.
Speaking for the group, Hanson insisted that the intention of the group was to beautify the highway and not to seek attention. He said the group wanted to move ahead from its violent past. “We can’t change what happened, but we can still work for a better tomorrow.”
Apparently, Georgia’s transportation department is not buying the argument and is reticent to either take or give chances.