The participants, some wearing white hoods and robes, stood on the sidewalk in front of the Orange County Courthouse holding confederate and American flags.
While no one was arrested at the demonstration, the sheriff’s office now plans to arrest two participants in the klan’s rally for openly carrying firearms, according to a joint statement from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Hillsborough Police Department.
“Although North Carolina allows people to openly carry weapons, this right is limited in certain situations, such as at parades, protests or demonstrations,” they said in the statement.
According to Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens, law enforcement had a swift response to the rally.
“Law enforcement came out pretty much immediately. I know the Hillsborough Police Department had extra officers immediately,” Stevens said. “I know the sheriff's office also had quite a number of officers there and were pretty much on the scene.”
However, demonstrators like Lindsay Ayling were disappointed with the police response. Ayling said she saw guns on some klansmen as they were returning to their cars.
“I was disappointed in the fact that the police were basically escorting the Klansmen to their cars as they were trying to intimidate community members,” Ayling said. “At that same courthouse, an antiracist activist was recently arrested because he had forgotten that he had a pocket knife in his pocket, and he accidentally brought it to court with him.”
Alicia Stemper, director of public information for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, said law enforcement is now taking the next steps in finding the weapon-holding demonstrators after reviewing photographic evidence.
“We were monitoring from a distance and did not see anybody with any weapons,” Stemper said. “As they were getting in their cars, people started telling us they had weapons, but we hadn't seen it, and at that point they were leaving, so it made sense at that point to pursue the investigation with a cool head.”
N.C. Rep. Graig Meyer, a Democrat representing Orange County, said the people in the counterprotest do not want their city to be represented by the Ku Klux Klan.
“Locals came downtown or walked over and set up a counterprotest across the street, and stayed there until the klan members went home,” Meyer said. “They serenaded them away with a choral singing of 'Hit the Road Jack.’”