KKK robe sent by mail to Memphis councilman

Associated Press • Apr 14, 2007 at 10:06 AM

MEMPHIS - City Councilman Edmund Ford received a package containing a white Ku Klux Klan robe, and the council chairman wants police to investigate.

Ford got the package by special delivery on Friday, three days after a council meeting in which he accused other council members of racism. He said he didn't want to dignify the robe with a response.

Ford, who is black, accused at least some of his fellow council members of racism Tuesday, saying, "Sometimes you might just have to get a white sheet."

The KKK robe came with a letter addressed to Ford that began: "Mr. Ford I believe you are in desperate need of a white sheet, so I took it upon myself to gift you with your very own bigot robe."

The letter said some of the robe's special insignia was added just for Ford: "You will see the yellow bands on the sleeves. The yellow symbolizes cowardice."

The author also described a patch on the robe that says "guilty" and goes on to write, "you Mr. Ford are guilty of the very bigotry and racial hatred that you accuse others of."

The sender was referencing Ford's comment at Tuesday's meeting when he argued that a council-led investigation into possible misconduct at the Memphis Light Gas and Water Division was racially motivated.

The FBI is investigating the utility's treatment of Ford's three utility accounts. A review of the accounts requested by the City Council found utility President and CEO Joseph Lee III prevented disconnection of Ford's utilities as the councilman amassed nearly $16,000 in debt.

During that time, Ford was serving as chairman of the City Council committee that oversees the utility's budget and spending. He was removed from that post in December after he and fellow councilman Ricky Peete were arrested on federal charges for allegedly accepting bribes for votes.

After testifying before a federal grand jury on Feb. 27, Lee acknowledged that Ford received special treatment.

Council Chairman Tom Marshal said he thinks police should look into who sent Ford the KKK robe. He also said he doesn't want the incident to re-ignite the strife among council members, and instead hopes it will unify the group.

"I suspect that it was a joke, but in any case, it was a hateful joke and that's a joke that's not funny to me," Marshall said.

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