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Anti-KKK protesters claim victory in downtown Durham

A sign that reads "History will not repeat" lies next to the burnt remains of a Confederate flag.

A sign that reads "History will not repeat" lies next to the burnt remains of a Confederate flag.

DURHAM Hundreds of protesters marched against the Ku Klux Klan in front of the old Durham County Courthouse on Main Street on Friday. 

"This is a victory that we will claim today," said Serena Sebring, an organizer with Southerners on New Ground, a regional queer liberation organization. 

Protesters gathered at the corner of South Mangum and East Main streets and marched around the block, ending up in front of the courthouse. 

They yelled "not in our Durham," "I believe that we will win," "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist U.S.A." and other chants while marching and standing in front of the courthouse. 

Counter-protest organizers said they received notice that Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists planned to protest in front of the courthouse at noon. 

SpiritHouse, a community organization aimed at spreading dialogue about Black community issues,  tweeted, "KKK MARCHING THROUGH DOWNTOWN DURHAM (they have been spotted they are armed and on their way). MAKE CHOICES THAT ARE BEST FOR YOU STAY SAFE" on Friday morning. 

The Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews encouraged people to rely on verified information. 

"We are urging the public to avoid circulating rumors on social media and instead wait for verified information from officials monitoring the situation," Andrews said in a statement. 

The city of Durham also tweeted about relying on verified information. 

They tweeted, "#donotspreadrumorsdurham." 

They also tweeted, "NO EVENT PERMIT HAS BEEN GRANTED TO ANY GROUP BY @DurhamPoliceNC. #StopTheRumorsDurham"

Police shut down East Main Street in front of the courthouse in anticipation of the march. 

Protesters said there were isolated sightings of the KKK, but there were no large, white supremacist groups. 

No violence or arrests were reported. 

Drummers came out about an hour into the protest. Counter-protesters danced in a circle in front of the courthouse. 

UNC students protested with the Southern Vision Alliance, the Inside Outside Alliance, the Youth Organizing Institute and other groups.

UNC senior history major Michael Purello said he went because a friend called him about it Friday morning. He said he went because he is concerned about the recent public presence of white supremacist groups.

"I think it’s good that there are a lot of groups that can really behind other organizations with explicit anti-racial and anti-wealth inequality standpoints, and that there’s enough people and momentum against an organized KKK rally in Durham, or something like that," Purello said.

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Justin Williams, a third year law student at N.C. Central University said he thought the counter-protest was a step in the right direction.

"I'm actually glad this is happening, because 30, 40 years ago, it was more on the low and subliminal," Williams said. "And now at least America is being diagnosed — now we know the cancer, we can see the cancer, we can see the symptoms."

Protesters met in front of the courthouse Monday to pull down the Confederate statue that was there. 

Friday's protesters made references to Monday's events. Organizers asked protesters to support the eight people arrested in relation to the statue. 

2016 UNC graduate student Libby Weimer held a sign that said "End white supremacy."

"There's no place for (white supremacy) here," Weimber said. "And I'm glad that statue is gone."

Protesters moved to the Durham Co-op Market on West Chapel Hill Street to discuss their next steps around 2 p.m.

They said one of their main goals is to be more critical of information they get and to not act on rumors. They asked people to follow Defend Durham on Facebook for more information.  

Assistant State and National news editors Bailey Aldridge and Becca Heilman contributed reporting.