PUBLISHED: 08:12 EST, 27 June 2012 | UPDATED: 08:13 EST, 27 June 2012
- International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan rejected from initial bid
- Now American Civil Liberties Union to help their endeavour
The American Civil Liberties Union will help the Ku Klux Klan in its bid to join Georgia’s highway clean-up program as a bitter legal fight looms.
The International Keystone Knights of the KKK applied to join the ‘Adopt-A-Highway’ program along part of Route 515 in the north Georgia mountains after their application filed May 21 was rejected.
Participating groups are recognized with a sign along the road they adopt.
Sponsors to be? From left, ‘Knighthawk,’ April Hanson and her husband Harley Hanson, flash a traditional Klan salute along the portion of Ga. 515 that they want to adopt
Battle: The Ku Klux Klan, pictured in a 1965 meeting, will likely take the Georgia Department of Transportation to court if their application is rejected
State officials announced this month they would deny the KKK group’s application, setting up the legal showdown.
ACLU’s executive director in Georgia told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the KKK considers this a First Amendment case.
Adoption approved: The Ku Klux Klan won the right to have its name on signs along I-55 in Missouri after a long legal battle
Seagraves says the ACLU is still working on its strategy for representing the group, adding that the organisation reached out to them after the Department of Transportation struck down their first bid.
The International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Union County, applied to sponsor litter removal along a stretch of Ga. 515 in the Appalachian Mountains on May 21.
The program features road signs emblazoned with the names of groups who volunteer to help beautify the state’s highways.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reportedthat state officials could be forced to choose between approving the request, denying it and facing a likely legal fight or ending the state’s 23-year-old Adopt-A-Highway program.
The application was filed by Harley Hanson, 34, who told the paper that he is the exalted cyclops of the Klan’s Realm of Georgia.
He said the organisation is just doing its part.
Hanson told the AJC: ‘We just want to clean up the doggone road. We’re not going to be out there in robes.’
State Rep Tyrone Brooks, president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, disagreed, saying the move is nothing but an advertising ploy.
He said: “This is about membership building and rebranding their name in a public way. If the state approves [their application] then they are complicit.’
Decision: Georgia officials are now forced to choose between approving the Klan’s request, denying it, facing a likely legal fight or ending the state’s 23-year-old Adopt-A-Highway program
Rep Brooks urged officials from the Georgia Department of Transportation to reject the KKK’s application, calling them a ‘domestic terrorist group’ regardless of any legal repercussions.
He told the AJC that caving to the Klan would be troublesome, saying: ‘What’s next, are we going to let Neo-Nazis or the Taliban or al-Qaeda adopt highways?’
The application is reminiscent of the Klan’s 1994 attempt to sponsor a portion of I-55 in Missouri.
When officials rejected their bid, and a massive legal battle ensued that lasted several years.
In the end, Missouri lost, forced to allow the Klan to participate in the program on the road that was named the Rosa Parks Highway – for the Civil Rights icon – shortly after the group’s court victory.