"Imperial Wizard says hundreds will attend "whites only" rally"
Members of a controversial white rights group are planning to gather in Iredell County and one of the Ku Klux Klan's highest ranking officials says he expects hundreds to attend.
Flyers for the event say the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan will gather for a "whites only" rally on Saturday in the town of Harmony, NC. The event is being billed as a free rally and cross lighting slated as a "white unity event."
WBTV spoke to Imperial Wizard Chris Barker, the head of the Loyal White Knights, on the phone Wednesday evening. He says the group is expecting between 350 to 400 people at what he calls a "private event."
While published flyers mention the town of Harmony, town leaders are going on the offensive to distance themselves from the event.
Ray Lewis is a town board member and a political pioneer. "I was aghast first and I couldn't believe it," he said. "The town that I live in. I was the first and the only black that's been on the board of town of Harmony, and I've been on the board for 14 years."
WBTV also spoke with Mayor Joyce Rogers, who weighed in on the planned rally.
"We're very against this coming to our town, because we have a very nice community," Rogers said. "We get along in our community."
Imperial Wizard Barker told WBTV that the group chose Harmony because a member of the group lives there and has a 20-acre that is private and big enough for the expected crowd.
But Barker wouldn't go into specifics as to where the rally was actually being held. He would only say that the event is slated to start around noon and last until around 10 p.m.
The rally is expected to end with a "cross lighting at dusk," the flyer states.
When asked about the reasoning behind the cross lighting, Barker says its a ritual that started with the six founding members of the KKK, who would go to the highest point and light a cross so members would know where to meet.
He says it's also a symbol that Christ is the light of the world.
Barker told WBTV that a naturalization ceremony, a swearing in for new members, will also be part of the rally. He says there is expected to be more than 20 new members from North Carolina.