KKK Prohibited From Rallying in Support of Commandments

Barrow County officials have denied a request by a Ku Klux Klan (search) splinter group to protest in support of a Ten Commandments display (search) hanging inside the county courthouse, citing a planned moratorium on all special events there.

The county notified Joseph J. Harper of Cordele that it would not authorize his permit request for a Friday morning rally. Harper, the self-described imperial wizard of the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, had planned a protest against the federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (search) seeking to remove a framed parchment copy of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse.

He had invited members of the House of Prayer (search), a predominantly black church in Atlanta, to join him.

Barrow County Commission Chairman Walter Elder planned to ask the commission Tuesday night to approve a moratorium on all special events until the county can draft and adopt an events ordinance to address security, emergency response and traffic issues, said commission spokesman Lane Downs.

Downs said they realized the need for a special-events ordinance after a Sept. 11 rally when several hundred people gathered at the courthouse to support the Ten Commandments display. She added that the proposed moratorium was not simply directed at Harper's group.

"It would apply to the churches as well as the KKK," Downs said. "The commission's main concern is just safety of the public."