The state of Georgia is in a bind after a local Ku Klux Klan (KKK) group filed a request to join the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program.
Records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show that the International Keystone Knights of the KKK in Union County has applied to “adopt” one mile of Route 515, located in the Appalachian Mountains near North Carolina. The state would be forced to give the group official recognition in the form of road signs bearing their name and other benefits in return for cleaning up litter on the stretch of highway.
A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Transportation told Raw Story that he was aware of the request but could not say more.
The state of Missouri in 1999 argued that they could bar a KKK group from participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program without violating their First Amendment rights. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, the group eventually won after the state’s case was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Officials from the Georgia Department of Transportation were meeting with lawyers in the state attorney general’s office on Monday to decide how to proceed. In the end, the state could be forced to include the white supremacist group or end the program altogether.
“We just want to clean up the doggone road,” Realm of Georgia Exalted Cyclops Harley Hanson told the Journal-Constituion. “We’re not going to be out there in robes.”
State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who heads the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said the state should fight the “domestic terrorist group” in court.
“This is about membership building and rebranding their name in a public way,” he explained to the paper. “If the state approves [their application] then they are complicit.”
“What’s next, are we going to let Neo-Nazis or the Taliban or al-Qaida adopt highways?” Brooks asked. “They have to say no. If it brings a lawsuit, so be it. If it ends the program, so be it.”
Update (4:45 p.m. ET): Georgia Department of Transportation Press Secretary David Spear told Raw Story that “the department continues to work through its usual process of reviewing the application.”
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 5 million unique readers per month and serves more than 19 million pageviews.