About 20 members of the Ku Klux Klan arrived in downtown Montgomery, Alabama Wednesday to meet demonstrators commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery March, USA Today reports.
The members, many of whom were dressed in Battle Dress Uniforms (BDU’s) that consisted of all black attire, boots, and red Klan patches, expected 2,000 to 3,000 members in Montgomery during the march reenactment, but it’s unclear if those numbers were in attendance.
USA Today spoke with two members, identified as officers of the organization, who said they are not a hate group and have nothing against those marching. They did, however, blame African-American culture for crime and unemployment.
“A lot of the problem is the crime. They (blacks) are racist as a culture to get away with crime,” Jacqueline Hannah told USA Today. “… We just had two policemen gunned down, rioting and a whole town burned down,” she added, referring to Ferguson, Mo.
“They don’t have any morals, they want God, religion and laws out of everything,” Roy Pemberton said. “They are trying to take that heritage away from us. Don’t I have the same rights?”
They also had choice words about the nation’s “poor societal conditions,” blaming the nation’s current state on those using government assistance, welfare, and food stamps.
“I have a bullhorn and I plan to use it. I want to ask them why they would go to Selma and take a whooping in the 1960s to get these rights and then they abuse every right they have been given and then blame it on the whites?” Pemberton said.
Though the two did not give a clear reason why they attended the commemoration ceremony, they did tell AZ Family that they were exercising their freedom of speech rights and “wanted to make friends.”
It’s unclear what kind of “friends” the Klan wanted to meet — shortly before the march, flyers promoting the organization were left on street signs, homes, and vehicles. According to AZ Family, the flyers were almost identical to those distributed in neighborhoods ahead of the Bloody Sunday anniversary, just two weeks prior.