A large portion of downtown Memphis, Tennessee, will be locked down Saturday to avoid hostilities during a rally organized by the Ku Klux Klan.


WMC-TV reported on Friday that pedestrian, commercial and auto traffic will be diverted around the area surrounding the Shelby County courthouse, where the rally is scheduled to be held.

The only people allowed inside will be klan members and participants in an opposing rally organized by a local civic group, Power to the People, and all of them will have to go through a security checkpoint.

Organizers of the "white unity event" said it will be a response to the Memphis City Council's decision in February 2013 to rename local parks named after Confederate figures Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Confederacy itself. They also said they expect Klansmen to be bused in from several other states.

The Associated Press reported that the increased security reflects officials' hope of avoiding a repeat of the scene during a 1998 klan rally, which turned into a brawl that led to the arrest of 20 people. This year, authorities said, they are accounting for not only klan members and other white-supremacy groups, but members of the city's local gangs who may want to disrupt the event.

"We have a lot of potential powder kegs," said Police Director Toney Armstrong.

Watch WMC's report on the city's preparation for the Klan, aired on March 29, 2013, below.

Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee