KKK Wants to “Adopt-a-Highway”

Ku Klux Klan, America's oldest and most infamous hate group, sues to participate in program  that permits them to keep litter off a stretch of highway and have their name posted there.

Ku Klux Klan, America’s oldest and most infamous hate group, sues to participate in program that permits them to keep litter off a stretch of highway and have their name posted there.

A North Georgia chapter of  Ku Klux Klan (KKK) applied to participate in a highway cleanup program.  Members of the group say they want to participate in a program that allows them to help keep an “adopted” section of highway clean and have their name on signage on that section of road.

 In May 2012, the KKK submitted an application for participation in the Georgia Adopt-A-Highway Program to the Georgia Department of Transportation, which operates the program.  However, the application was declined. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued on behalf of the group in September 2012, saying the group’s right to free speech was violated. In November 2012, a Fulton County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the KKK, saying the group’s application  was treated differently than others and “viewpoint-based discrimination” was not allowed under the Georgia Constitution. The State appealed to have the ruling reversed. A ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals is expected soon.

 Georgia has participated in the Adopt-A-Highway program for over 20 years.  For those organizations who agree to clean a stretch of road, the state provides advertising on a sign posted along the stretch. There is no charge to the organizations. The state provides the safety vests, materials to collect the trash, and the advertising signage. The organization provides the labor.

 In denying the KKK’s request,  the State cited safety concerns and the organization’s history. Officials determined that with a speed limit of 65 mph the area the group requested was unsafe for cleanup volunteers to work. Also,  promoting an organization with a history of inciting unrest could negatively affect the quality of life, commerce, and economic development in Georgia.  The state’s legal argument reads that erecting an Adopt-a-Highway Program sign with the KKK’s name on it would have the effect of erecting a sign announcing that “the state of Georgia has declared this area Klan Country.” The state also argues that anything written on the signs would constitute government endorsement of the KKK.

 “We’re not a hate group. We don’t hate anybody. We’re just white people that want to stick with white people,” said the KKK’s secretary April chambers. “All we want to do is adopt a highway. We’re not doing it for the publicity. We’re doing it to keep the [highway] clean. We’re not racists. We just want to be with white people.”

 The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, lists the KKK as the oldest and most infamous of American hate groups.

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