KKK parade sparks counterprotests across North Carolina

Their announcement inspired multiple counter-protests, including one in Raleigh hosted by the Triangle Unity May Day Coalition. Several students also planned to meet the KKK at the parade to counter-protest.

Desmera Gatewood, a spokesperson for the Triangle Unity May Day coalition, said they saw the event as an opportunity.

“This was an opportunity for us to send a message to the KKK and to the United States and to the Trump administration that we are not going to be intimidated by hate,” she said.

Manzoor Cheema, another spokesperson for the coalition, said they wanted to unite people from all backgrounds.

“This rally is led by black, brown, workers, Muslims, immigrants, basically,” he said. “And we were very particular about that because we believe the most impacted communities ... should lead the movement.”

John Roberts, spokesperson for the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, said the election motivated them to plan the parade.

“We see that as a triumph that finally the greater voice has been heard — the silent majority has been heard,” he said.

The KKK’s parade consisted of about 20 vehicles with Confederate and KKK flags driving through Roxboro, N.C.

Roxboro Police Chief David Hess said in a statement neither he nor the city of Roxboro condones the beliefs of the KKK. Hess will hold a press conference on Monday in response to the parade.

Owen Webster and Sydney Grice, students at N.C. State University, planned to meet the KKK at the parade with other students. The KKK did not publicize the parade’s logistics.

Because the students did not get word of the KKK’s activity early enough, Webster and Grice attended the rally in Raleigh instead.

Grice said race relations are divided right now, specifically in the Raleigh area.

“And so I think from here on out it’s about approaching things with empathy and with patience but also with honesty and with accountability,” she said.

Webster said the KKK’s increased activism reflects the current state of race relations in the United States.

“I think a lot of their stances on race relations have been normalized as a result of not just the election, but I think just a broader trend of nationalism taking root in the U.S.,” he said.

Roberts said having a businessman rather than a politician as president will be a good thing for the country

“The fact that what Mr. Trump represents and what he can bring to this nation is something that, in our eyes, we see worth celebrating ...” Roberts said. “We see that as a triumph of the middle class.”

Gatewood said she wanted to unite people to stand against racism at the Raleigh rally.

“We are hoping to bring together people that represent the intersections of oppression and their allies to send a message to our allies and to people who oppose us that we’re here,” she said. “And, you’re not going to intimidate us with this sort of language.”

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