More than 1,000 counter protestors showed up, according to Memphis police, to show their anger at the Ku Klux Klan's presence in Memphis. The KKK held a rally protesting Memphis government's decision to change the name of three confederate parks.
"These people and their message have no business in this state, they have no business in North America and I'm going to exercise my First Amendment right to debate ideas in public," called out one protestor during the day.
But it was not the Klan's presence that protestors were heckling as much as the police presence during the rallies. Those in the area fenced off for anti-Klan protestors say Memphis police were protecting the Klansmen.
"Police Director (Toney)Armstrong is violating the citizen of Memphis' rights by not allowing us to assemble on 2nd and Adams where we filed a permit but yet he says he's not doing that," says Kennith VanBuren, "Memphis Police Department is violating the citizens' of Memphis rights, First Amendment rights, about not allowing us to confront these bigots."
Joseph Cartwright, Jr., 17, came in displaying his message loudly: He wore a confederate flag cape inside the anti-Klan protest area. He said, "I know my rights and I know I'm allowed to so that's why I have it on."
Cartwright says he did not wear the confederate flag to provoke any type of reaction, but it's what he received. After citizens angrily expressed their objection to Cartwright wearing the confederate flag, at least one dozen law enforcement officers immediately removed him from the crowd.
His father says, "They just said they took him outside the boundaries for his own safety."
Memphis police were not taking incidents lightly. Officers and tactical teams surrounded the anti-Klan rally perimeter; undercover officers inside swiftly escorted disorderly protestors out of the barricade.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said earlier in the week he was concerned the anti-Klan area would become a "powder keg," but it didn't stop families from bringing their young children to the rally to hear what they call a history lesson.
"It's a part of history. You don't see stuff like this very often. They're going to be talking about this years from now in school and kids are going to be learning about stuff like this," says Katie Cole, who brought her six-year-old Peyton Lancaster to the rally, "I think the police have it under control and they're not going to let anything happen."
Tra McFadder brought his two kids with him and his wife to show people what an interracial family looks like and to show his family a lesson too. He said, "I want my kids to be able to see what ignorance looks like. I want them to know what the past looks like and what the future shouldn't look like."
Memphis police said there were no serious incidents as a result of the rally.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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