Police in Roxboro, North Carolina, will hold a press conference Monday to address community concerns after a band of KKK members drove through the small town Saturday celebrating President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the recent election.
The parade was originally going to take place in Pelham, 40 minutes away from Roxboro. But organizers moved the event after protesters gathered in Pelham Saturday morning to confront the Klansmen, according to The News & Observer.
Two men were also arrested on Friday night after a stabbing at a KKK meeting in Caswell County, where Pelham is located.
Local police and state troopers blocked several intersections in a bid to keep the peace as the parade of vehicles waving American, Confederate and KKK flags zipped through the town of some 8,000 people. Men and women shouted “White power!” and “Hail victory!” Only a handful of bystanders watched. The parade was over in minutes, officials said.
Roxboro Police Chief David Hess explained that there was nothing officials could do to stop the car parade. But he acknowledged that the presence of the KKK provoked furious emotions that could erupt into violence.
“I and the City of Roxboro do not condone the beliefs of the KKK,” Hess said, according to WNCN, a local CBS affiliate.
“My heart is heavy that our community was chosen by the KKK to spread their message,” the chief, who is white, said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“We owe it to the community to make sure limited exposure and potential acts of violence are minimized. I, nor you, want anyone regardless of color being physically hurt,” he said.
Amanda Barker, an “imperial kommander” of the Loyal White Knights who is married to the founder of the group, told the Times-News that the car parade was a celebration of Trump’s victory.
“Actually we have the same views,” she said, referring to the president-elect. “A lot of white Americans felt the same way, especially about the wall, immigration and the terrorism coming here. I think Donald Trump is going to do some really good things and turn this country around.”
A group spokesman told the newspaper later that members were going to spend the rest of the day “fellowshipping.”
Plans for the traditional Klansmen cross burning were still up in the air, according to Barker, and it was not known if members actually set fire to a cross Saturday.
Hundreds of people, meanwhile, demonstrated against the KKK in North Carolina’s capital of Raleigh.
The state’s Democratic Party issued a statement calling the Klan car parade “horrifying,” WRAL-TV reported.
The demonstration comes after “months of toxic and divisive rhetoric that belittled many in our state,” party chairwoman Patsy Keever said. “We must all stand together in rejecting these hateful actions, which includes listening to and valuing those in our communities who feel targeted.”
Klansmen distributed recruitment flyers in the Roxboro area in May, a campaign inspired by then-candidate Trump to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
The local group, which claims to have 50 active members, is opposed to LGBT rights, interracial relationships and immigration, a spokesman told local TV station WTVD.
When David Duke, former KKK grand wizard, first expressed support for Trump earlier this year, Trump said he didn’t know the man. “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump said on CNN, then later blamed a faulty earpiece for his bizarre response to the question about Duke.
Trump later disavowed support from Klansmen.